Poll campaigning goes hi-tech in Dravidian land

The BJP launched its mobile application, besides nearly 900 WhatsApp groups across the state.

Chennai: Never before in an election campaign in Tamil Nadu, the social media, WhatsApp and television channels played a major role in influencing voters mind as all parties vied with one another to use the 21st century propaganda tools to make the maximum impact.

With 29.15 per cent voters in Tamil Nadu joining the voters list in 2009, political parties had to think of modern ways to sway their preferences and reach them where they are active social media, mobile phones, WhatsApp and television channels.


The AIADMK set up its IT wing with 720 functionaries including 14 state-level officials besides data analysts, Ph.D holders and diploma-holders in IT. It began its campaign in social media with a simple video titled ‘Olirum Nikazhkaalam, milirum varungkaalam’ (Glowing present, glittering future) across various social network platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The BJP launched its mobile application, besides nearly 900 WhatsApp groups across the state. It organised local group meets under the V4NaMo programme.

The national party matched the presence of major parties such as AIADMK and DMK in the new age campaign.

AIADMK general secretary J. Jayalalithaa, DMK president M. Karunanidhi and treasurer M.K. Stalin became active on Facebook page and they had several lakh followers. The DMK did not have a separate IT wing, but youth in the party were working overtime to campaign on social media. Pictures of campaign by DMK leaders, their utterances, slogans and meetings were carried to lakhs of new generation voters.

DMDK leader Vijayakanth too became active. For the last two Sundays of the campaign, he answered questions from people through Twitter. PMK Chief Ministerial candidate Anbumani Ramadoss was active in WhatsApp and social media, coming out with quick responses, besides initiating some of the debates.
The two major rivals, DMK and AIADMK were involved in hard-hitting advertisement campaign in newspapers and television channels. DMK ads on front page used a popular comical dialogue “Ennamma Ipppadi Panreengaley ma,?” (Why are you doing like this?). Responding quickly, AIADMK sought to ridicule its arch rival by posing questions in the same fashion and it was circulated in social media and mobile messaging platforms too.

Television channels too had their role with debates, live news coverage, catching actions of politicians on stage and taking public meetings to people's houses. Almost all political fronts had their own TV channels and other channels had the advantage of common viewership. Each and every move of the parties were debated on television and the manifestos, besides promises and criticisms were under scrutiny on television.

The print media had to push themselves more with analysis, bringing out behind the scene happenings and coming out with what will happen next. The election campaign was drastically different, as the democratic battle was fought in virtual media, besides the streets and public meetings.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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