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Pb polls: Political parties battle it out on social media platforms as public gatherings are banned


At a time when rallies and large gatherings are banned by the Electoral Commission (EC) due to a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, political parties in Punjab are battling it out on social media platforms as they promote their programs to people and also counter any negative propaganda from their opponents. The teams of “digital warriors” – video editors, content writers, graphic designers, cartoonists and volunteers – of these parties, including the ruling Congress, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), are busy planning social media campaigns through video clips and graphics for the February 20 Punjab Assembly polls.

Some of the parties have planned to hold virtual rallies through social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter to reach people to spread their programs and agendas for the state.

On January 8, the EC banned public gatherings, road shows and corner meetings until January 15 in five states under ballot, citing soaring numbers of coronavirus cases. On January 15, the polling panel extended its ban on physical gatherings and roadshows until January 22.

The SAD is keen to shed light on the development projects carried out in Punjab during his 10-year rule from 2007 to 2017 and also promises to continue working for the progress of the state if his alliance with the Bahujan Samaj party (BSP) is elected to power.

“We shine a light on development work and infrastructure projects carried out by Akali Dal-led regimes in the state,” said Nashattar Gill, the party’s IT and social media manager.

Besides spreading the party’s poll pledges, SAD’s digital warriors are also posting messages, video clips with scathing captions and hashtags to target its rival parties.

He came out with the online campaigns #LiesofKejriwal, #FakeDelhiModel, “Gurantian Da Jaal Hai, Jhootha Kejriwal Hai”, targeting the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on his poll pledges, as well as the hashtags #CongressRuinedPunjab and #ShameonCongress, hitting to the ruling party on unemployment, the threat of drugs, the electricity shortage and its broken promises over the past five years.

SAD’s social media team has created 23,000 WhatsApp groups in the state to share party platforms at the village and block level, Gill told PTI.

Party cadres, especially young people, help manage social media campaigns, he said.

The SAD held its first live virtual interaction with residents of the Kharar Assembly segment on Monday via its Facebook page and YouTube channel, where its chairman Sukhbir Singh Badal shared the party’s vision for Punjab.

BJP state IT cell chief Rakesh Goyal said the party has appointed social media officers in all 117 state assembly constituencies to reach voters at the booths with its programs and the work done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. central government.

“We have formed over 17,000 WhatApp groups,” he said.

The saffron party is leading the social media campaign for the Punjab elections with hashtags such as #NawaPunjabBhajpaDeNaal and #PunjabWithBJP.

“We get a really good response to our social media campaigns,” Goyal said.

The BJP has launched online campaigns such as #KejriwalfailsinDelhi, #KejriwalAgainstPunjab #DhongiKejriwal, #CongressCrisis and #FailCongress as it seeks to target its opponents.

The ruling Congress has a team of around 30 to 35 digital warriors who run social media campaigns and also track the posts of rival parties to counter their propaganda.

Punjab Congress social media coordinator Samrat Dhingra said the party has set up a war room with a team of graphic designers and content writers in Mohali.

He added that the party also plans to hold virtual rallies through various social media platforms.

Regarding the social media campaigns, Dhingra said the party launched the hashtags #CongressHiAyegi, #LokaanDiSarkar, #PunjabDiChangiSarkar and #HathPunjabDa to highlight several decisions of the state government such as reduction of electricity tariff and agricultural loan waiver.

The EC on Monday decided to hold elections for a phase of the Punjab Assembly on February 20, instead of February 14, in view of Guru Ravidas Jayanti.

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