The villages used to be awash in party flags and turned into virtual political camps. (Representational Image)
Hyderabad: Social media, it seems, has changed the age-old and unfair method of electioneering in villages in West Godavari district.
The villages used to be awash in party flags and turned into virtual political camps. But there is not a flag or poster to be seen in many of the villages including Kopparru, Tundurru, Sivadevuni Chikkala, Thurputallu, Sitaramputram, Mogaltur, Saripalle, Matsyapuri, Likhithapudi, Yenuguvani Lanka, Veeravasaram.
Lakhmaneswaram, Kalavapudi, Cherukuwada and Akividu under the constituencies of Undi, Bhimavaram, Palacole and Narsapuram constituencies.
It’s a similar situation in several villages of Alapadu, Bhujabalapatnam and Mandavalli under Kaikaluru constituency in Krishna district, say locals.
V. Satyanarayana, a resident of Saripalle village in Narsapuram constituency, says there has been a change in election campaigns since 2014.
"Till 2009 elections, influential persons used to dominate the election campaign in their village and also villages near them. The villages virtually turn into political dens for the influential persons of parties concerned, and villagers were also divided on party basis during the elections," Mr Satyanarayana said.
He explained that till 2009, if the influential person of the village installed the flag of a particular political party, the entire village voted for that party and no one dared violate that diktat. But now, village youngsters do not obey the diktats of the influential and are voting according to their choice.
Venkateshwara Rao, another villager, said, "Earlier the influential forced us to install their party’s flags on our houses and with fear we used to obey them. But now the scenario has changed in view of the social media activism. If anyone forces us, we install the flag, and then make a complaint to the authorities concerned with the help of social media. This trend started in the 2014 elections."
He said that with the introduction of CVigil App by the Election Commission of India, contesting candidates and their followers are also afraid of splurging on publicity material as special observers have been appointed to check on election expenditure.
K. Anjaneyulu of Lakhmaneswaram village told this newspaper that candidates rely more on money and liquor to attract voters, and thus prefer to keep the money to spend in large amounts the day before polling rather than on publicity material.
M Rama Raju of Undi village said that earlier the election drama started in villages from the day the names of candidates were announced.
Loud music blared all day and flags and posters were pinned up everywhere and even trees were not spared. But this is changing and now things heat up in just the last three or four days before polling.
"Whatever be the reason, now we are at least spared the noise pollution and defacing of our walls," said Ashriwadam of Likhithapudi village.