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State BJP looks to regain lost ground on social media

The party, which used the digital medium to full effect during the Lok Sabha campaign, has largely lain dormant ahead of the Assembly polls; rivals have upped the ante against it on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter

The party that taught the country how to use the social media effectively to engage voters seems to have lost steam in the run-up to the Assembly polls in Maharashtra. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has largely failed to repeat its social media offensive in the state and, instead, has been bearing the brunt of attacks on the digital medium from rival parties, especially the Shiv Sena. After receiving a rap on their knuckles, the party’s social media team has now woken up and become active again.

The Sena had attacked the BJP for giving more prominence to Gujarat and Gujaratis. Messages bearing this allegation have been posted on the Sena’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, and also circulated via WhatsApp. In answer to this, the BJP will now start sharing special posters on all social media platforms showing that the Modi government has more ministers from Maharashtra. One such poster lists 13 portfolios that are with MPs from Maharashtra, as opposed to two from Gujarat in PM Narendra Modi’s Cabinet.

Sleepy campaign
In stark contrast to the mammoth Lok Sabha campaign, the party has had a torpid social media campaign. Fuming at Sena’s barbs and lethargy shown by party workers in countering them, the BJP top brass took the social media team to task. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, the national vice-president of the BJP, is said to have expressed his displeasure at the team’s work on Sunday.

“The benchmark was set during the Lok Sabha elections and comparing that effort to the Assembly polls is not possible. But, this time, our opponents were more aggressive than us on social media. We have also launched our social media campaign and it will continue,” Sah-asrabuddhe told mid-day.

“This is in reply to the attacks by Sena that the BJP is focusing on Gujaratis. We will also put the names and faces on the posters, and will keep pushing them on social media. This will continue till the elections are over. It should have happened earlier, but now we will completely focus on social media, as (on-ground) campaigning has come to an end,” said a member of the BJP’s social media team. After Sahasrabuddhe’s rap, BJP Maharashtra’s official Facebook and Twitter accounts have seen regular updates.

The party also delayed the release of its manifesto, and it never really reached the common man. To make up for this loss, BJP’s communication cell has converted the manifestoes to colour and, along with pictures of PM Modi and other leaders, it is circulating the manifesto through WhatsApp and other forums.

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