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  HOME PAGE 11/08/2022 04:29 
28.02.2022 10:27 News >> Indian Parties Go Digital To Reach Voters In Provincial Polls Amid COVID Rules

Indian Parties Go Digital To Reach Voters In Provincial Polls Amid COVID Rules

Amid coronavirus measures, political parties resort more to social media to woo voters.

As five Indian states are currently in the midst of key provincial polls as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, political parties and candidates are focusing particularly on digital platforms to connect with voters.
The Indian Election Commission recently eased strict campaigning restrictions on physical rallies and roadshows as coronavirus cases went on the decline across the country.
Assembly elections in the five states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab, and Manipur are being held in seven phases, with vote counting to continue until March 10.
Ashubodh Deori, social media head of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that took part in elections in the northern state of Uttrakhand on Feb. 14, told Anadolu Agency that social media remained the main focus of the party, which did not hold rallies because of the COVID-19 rules.
"In our elections this time, we connected with people through the digital mode, mostly," he said, adding that they had used platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube to "connect to people."
He said virtual rallies for specific social groups, such as women, young people, and veterans, were held during the campaigning. "We chose demographics and then reached them."
The AAP, he said, had some 1.8 million people connected through WhatsApp, adding that this "helped us to send our message across to the voters."
Deori, however, admitted that physical rallies had more impact than their virtual counterparts.
"In that setup, you have leaders coming to a particular place and it creates an atmosphere. In terms of impact on voters, the influence of physical campaigning is greater and virtual (campaigns) can't replace the influence of physical campaigning in elections," he said.
Messages through videos
In the neighboring state of Punjab, Nirvan Singh, who attends to social media for the Punjab Lok Congress -- a party just recently founded by veteran politician and retired army captain Amarinder Singh who also led the Indian National Congress party in the border state -- explains how effectively, with the help of social media, they made voters aware of their goals and achievements.
"Through the official handles, we would go live and we would connect to the people. It was an important tool to reach the people to know the feedback and ground scenario," he said, adding that social media was "helpful."
Singh said the polls this time were different from the last assembly elections in 2017, when all the rallies were physical.
"The personal contact was more. This election was more digital-based and on social media. They made small videos so the message reaches the public. The party candidates in their respective areas went for door-to-door campaigning, as well," he said.
In the populous state of Uttar Pradesh, where the polls will be crucial, candidates say many of their competitors chose to go door-to-door on the campaign trail.
The state's rural areas have seen some parties install large vehicle-mounted screens that move around to spread their message to voters.
Mriganka Singh, a candidate for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Kairana assembly segment in Uttar Pradesh, said that in rural areas the focus remains on door-to-door campaigning as the use of social media is less.
Singh has been visiting 10 to 12 villages per day to reach the people.
"This is a huge difference compared to the last election. Earlier, the focus was more on the rallies. But this time, because of the restrictions due to COVID, we have to meet more and more people to send our message," Singh told Anadolu Agency.
Losses to aviation companies
The mid-pandemic elections have also brought losses for private aviation companies who once ferried political leaders in private planes and choppers from one place to another.
Deepraj Mehra, chief executive of Saarthi Aviation, a private Indian flight charter company, told Anadolu Agency that business was affected by "less than 50%" beginning of the election process when the cases were high.
"But now, as the cases have come down and political activities recovered, things have improved and it is now almost normal," he said. -



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