Social media, the new battleground for politics

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Frequent updates target the upwardly mobile crowd

With Assembly polls round the corner and candidates leaving no stone unturned in reaching out to voters, social media has become the new battleground.

Suddenly, the semi-dormant pages are flush with activity with candidates posting frequent updates, mostly targeted at the online, young and upwardly mobile crowd. While the jury is still out on whether social media can really impact poll results, candidates appear to be investing resources in making their presence felt in the virtual world.

A random browse through poll-related content on major social media platforms reveals that Facebook appears to be the top choice of candidates. Some also choose to back this up with regular posts on Twitter and video uploads on YouTube.

Popular among regular Facebook users is Congress candidate from Shivajinagar, R. Roshan Baig. Baig’s Facebook page has a following of 22,041 — more than almost any other candidate. It is evident that Mr. Baig was quick to see potential in this medium as his page is almost a year older than most other candidates.

Congress MLA from Byatarayanapura, Krishna Byre Gowda, is also a regular Facebook user. With 2,220 likes, he regularly updates his page, and has also issued video messages in English and Kannada to potential voters. Apart from his Facebook campaigns, Mr. Gowda has also taken his campaign to Twitter, where he regularly tweets about various issues in the state. He also uses YouTube for the purpose of sending out video messages to people. N.A. Haris, the Congress MLA from Shantinagar is also found on Facebook with around 251 likes.

R. Ashok, Deputy Chief Minister and BJP candidate from Padmanabhanagar is an active Facebook user, with more than 6,412 likes in total. His approach to social media, however, is about pushing information on his visits, campaigns and interactions with citizens at localities across his constituency. Now and then, he adopts a more personal method of interaction with his followers and frequently shares things that inspire him.

Another noteworthy social media user is the BJP candidate from Mahadevapura, Arvind Limbavali. Mr. Limbavali is active on Facebook with a following of 5,146 people, as well as on Twitter, and regularly tweets his opinions on matters of importance in his constituency.

The Loksatta Party’s candidates too have taken advantage of the wide reach of the social media site. Meenakshi Bharath, the candidate from Malleswaram, has created awareness about her campaign through her page ‘Meenakshi for Malleswaram’.

Ms. Bharath’s page has 2,388 likes, and she is regular in using the page as a medium for social activism. She too uses Twitter and YouTube actively to circulate her opinions. She also uses her pages to support various initiatives that aim at improving living conditions in Bangalore. Like a few other candidates, she also interacts personally with those who post messages. The party candidate for Basavangudi, Shanthala Damle, has also taken to the online trend. Her page ‘Shanthala Damle for MLA Basavangudi’ has amassed 3,928 likes and is gaining popularity, as is her Twitter page, which has more than 190 followers. She too is regular in posting pictures from her campaigns and visits.

Considering these sites provide the opportunity for personal interaction, the lack of criticism of many of the candidates is conspicuous. Most of these sites provide for regulation of content and control over what is posted. There are, however, a few posts throwing light on the mismanagement of various areas and appeals for some kind of improvement, most of which have gone unheeded.

He is a Software Engineer from Moodbidri currently living in Kuwait. He likes to travel and post interesting things about technology. He is the designer of Kannadigaworld.com. You may follow him on FB at fb.com/alanpaladka

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