No one remembers municipal polls in Delhi witnessing such high-voltage campaigning. These polls used to be the off-the-block kinds, where mainstream political parties hardly invested so much money, energy and enthusiasm as they are doing now to win municipal wards.
Buoyed by its performance in assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa, the BJP is sparing no effort to have the same kind of performance in Delhi municipal polls also. To regain control of 272 wards spread in three municipal corporations of the national capital, the saffron party has deployed a fleet of 35 “digital raths” to make the campaign effective and smart.
Specially designed e-rickshaws fitted with digital screens for audio-visual presentations, like Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speeches and documentaries exposing failures of the AAP government in providing basic facilities to people living in slums and unauthorised colonies — have been rolled out to cover all areas and municipal wards of the metro city.
In support of their argument, as to why the party opted to convert e-rickshaws into digital raths, the BJP leaders said that in comparison to larger vehicles, e-rickshaws can be made available in every nook and corner of the city. Also, it is seen as a simple, environment-friendly vehicle, used by common people for their day-to-day travel.
Therefore, using e-rickshaws for digital campaigning indicates that the BJP has taken to it to make MCD polls low cost, yet effective for the party. But then the saffron party is equally strong in the operation of IT platforms. Armed with 80,000 IT graduates, the BJP is leaving no stone unturned to familiarise people about its plan and activities through the use of micro-blogging sites.
Campaign Methods of Other Parties
Arvind Kejriwal-headed AAP is no less astute in understanding the worth of these polls. A victory in municipal polls would ensure good show for the party in the Delhi assembly elections. Hence, the AAP is trying to reach out to voters through social media platforms. In the run up to the April 23 elections, the IT cell of the party is using Twitter, WhatsApp and Facebook to reach out to voters in the city.
While the Congress is also relying on digital platforms to give its campaign a push, the grand old party has invented a unique way to woo voters. Delhi Congress leaders are visiting famous street food joints like Paranthe Wali Gali of Chandni Chowk, Bittu Tikki Wala in Maharani Bagh Market, Maggi joints in Delhi University’s north campus and Sitaram Chholey Bhaturewala of Paharganj to woo voters.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who launched the campaign for the Janata Dal (United) recently, has already indicated his party is a serious player in the MCD polls. To this regard, the party has also formed an election war room, where an IT cell has been created to flash the party’s message to voters on their cell phones. Twitter, Facebook and other IT platforms are also being used by the JD (U) to woo voters from the Poorvanchal area, having a significant presence in the national capital.
Yogendra Yadav-led Swaraj India and Mayawati-headed BSP are not far behind the APP, BJP, the Congress and others in the operation of digital technology to win over voters to their respective sides.
Any election, big or small, involves a party’s prestige and reputation. No party wants to lose polls. To make its endeavour successful, a party resorts to multi-mode of campaigning. Digital platforms or LED-based communication platforms have become essential tools of electioneering. Those who use them effectively have been able to cast influence on a sizeable number of voters, especially the floating ones.
Perhaps, this is the reason why no political party, keen to outdo others, wants to be seen as lagging behind in reaching out to voters. Digital technology or platforms help them bridge any gap existing between voters and the party.