Not just on the ground, the MCD battle between BJP and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is also being fought on social media, with the Saffron Party taking a slight edge in determining the narrative.
With a growing number of millennial users on the app, both sides haven’t spared even Instagram to campaign for the upcoming polls. From Instagram reels to poster wars on Twitter, the fight can be seen on every digital platform.
Preparations for the upcoming citizens’ polls began months earlier for the incumbent party, which has dominated Delhi’s municipal government for 15 years. While AAP has created and put on display its pre-election war room, the BJP has teamed up with National Spokesman Shehzaad Poonawala as its social media ‘prabhari’ and Dr. Rohit Upadhyay as the co-organizer of the wing. Punit Agrawal also plays a vital role as IT head to boost the work of the whole team.
Both parties are also doing their best to push their hashtags on Twitter against each other. Despite having an incumbent position in the municipal corporation, BJP’s Delhi unit attacks ministers and leaders of AAP, raising corruption allegations against them on a daily basis. For its part, the Arvind Kejriwal-led party, now tied to the Gujarat assembly and the Delhi citizens’ polls, is limited to just defending the allegations.
While Delhi BJP claims to be understated when it comes to digital strategy, unlike AAP, the reality is that the party has taken the social media game very seriously with poster wars and video spoofs. This has forced AAP to raise the bar in recent days as the city’s benchmark dates approach.
An insider at Delhi BJP’s Pandit Pant Marg office says, “We know that the youth are mainly on social media and rarely watch TV news. That’s why our strategy becomes crucial here. We have been given the opportunity to reach out to them organically through social media platforms and expose the lies and scams of the Delhi government led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.”
According to the details, Delhi BJP has more than 4,000 active ideologically driven digital volunteers helping to reach the masses. They also act as ground support when it comes to holding protests.
There are also thousands of WhatsApp groups currently buzzing with multiple messages every day and shaping the story in the national capital.
Everything the BJP’s social media team does is in line with the issues singled out by the state and national leaders. Some guidance approvals must be sought from MCD campaign manager Ashish Sood.
Those who closely monitor the BJP’s polling strategy have noted that the social media or digital wing is ready in just a few minutes with a poster or video attack against the AAP, which often finds space in TV news.
“We are more creative as our political opponents run the entire campaign by injecting huge amounts of money followed by advertisements. Since we have no stake in the state government, we largely rely on our volunteers and digital strategy,” a key BJP leader said on condition of anonymity.
The party has also hired fresh young talent to design cartoons and memes as part of its election strategy.
While the digital game is strong, issues at the local level – which the public expects to be raised by all parties – seem to have taken a back seat. The issues of waste, sanitation and proper drainage, among others, are absent from the lofty campaigns.
So far, it looks set to be an uphill battle for both parties in the now unified Delhi Municipal Corporation polls, though the BJP’s Delhi unit has made some progress in recent months.
The MCD polls were supposed to be announced in April, but were postponed on the pretext of unification of the then three different MCDs. Since then, major corruption allegations have been leveled against sitting ministers and prominent leaders of AAP.
This has helped the BJP shift voters’ focus from AAP’s successful victory in the Punjab parliamentary elections held earlier this year.
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