BBMP Elections

Social Media: The battleground for BBMP Elections

BBMP City Politics

Parties said that social media will play a major role in the upcoming elections.

Major parties contesting the upcoming Bruhat Bengaluru MahanagaraPalike (BBMP) elections have dedicated social media teams for campaigning on various social media platforms

Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)  spokesperson Suresh N said, “Digital media today is omnipresent. With 5G being rolled out, using the internet in India has become equivalent to breathing oxygen.” He believes that the internet is ending the digital divide between rural and urban areas. Anil Kumar, party spokesperson for Congress also agreed that social media is a major part of election campaigning this year.

Dr. S. Y. Surendra Kumar, professor in the department of political science at Bangalore University, said, “Social media has become a reality. There are negatives as well as positives to using it. Political parties are at the forefront of capitalising on the reach of these platforms.”

Congress started PayCM campaign this year and one of the members of its social media team said that they will take this campaign forward in the BBMP elections as well. “Our approach would be more organic than paid. We have recovered well after the 2018 elections now. Pay CM and, Say CM have been successful as they have increased our social media engagement on Twitter and Facebook. Our party is pretty aggressive on all platforms and it will yield us results in the upcoming elections.” According to Forbes, organic social media content is any free content shared on social media platforms without any paid promotion.

Congress will target the present government’s failures on social media, according to the party’s spokesperson. He said, “People in Bengaluru are very active on social media and we will highlight our agendas on these platforms.” Infrastructural development and corruptionwill be key target areas of Congress. All Members of the Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) of Congress have created a certain niche for themselves on various platforms and will use it for the elections.”

Vinay Kaswe, a content writer for Congress’s social media team added that Congress will also highlight how the present government has sought 40 percent commission in all infrastructural projects during its tenure.

One of the senior members of the BJP social media team said that the party is using WhatsApp as a substantial tool for the upcoming elections. “Our main focus is on development. Our social media team shares our development work on WhatsApp every day with the faces of our Chief Minster and Prime Minister.” The party also mentions its agendas on Twitter every day so that people know what they are offering for the upcoming elections. He said the social media team of the party decides the narrative to be sent every day and works according to what’s trending on the platform.

Suresh said that the BJP will highlight the various development projects done by the present government in the past five years. Another senior member of the social media team said that the party’s well-wishers were doing well for them across all platforms.

Anish who is a volunteer with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said that different social media platforms catered to different age groups. “Facebook is dominated by Generation X people whereas Instagram is dominated by millennials. As far as Twitter is concerned, it is primarily for debates where parties post their narratives and counter narratives. Our party’s goal is to put the right information out there countering the misinformation being usually spread.”Harvard University defines Generation X as those people born between 1965 and 1984 and Millennials as people born between 1985 and 2004.

For AAP, “content is king on social media.” Anish said that BBMP posts about what it has given to the city but his party posts about the actual reality. “We post about the potholes, the dangling cable wires all over the place, making the people aware of what is actually happening on the ground.” According to him, social media allows users to connect with candidates directly. “People relate to the content we post as it is very local and it concerns them.”

Dr. Kumar said that parties spend a hefty sum on social media campaigns and BJP is at the forefront of it and has received a lot of political funding since Prime Minister Modi has come to power. According to an ADR report, political parties spent Rs 29.568 crores on expenses on campaigns through social media platforms/apps and other means during 2022 assembly elections. “Parties will spend on these social media campaigns as the focus is on urban areas and the majority of the population residing in these areas is on social media.” According to him, “The question is how much of these funds will get converted to votes, that remains to be seen.”