Hello, this is Aam Aadmi calling

Hello, this is Aam Aadmi calling

A couple of days ago Anil Ahuja’s afternoon slumber was shaken off by a phone call. He picked up the call and heard the message that appeared like a personal appeal and went back to sleep without pondering over it. That call was a pre-recorded message from Arvind Kejriwal pursuing Delhi voters to support Aam Aadmi Party.

Off late, people in Delhi have also been receiving similar phone calls from Bharatiya Janata Party to support Narendra Modi’s rally scheduled 29 September in Rohini. The call for mandate seems to have shifted to telephone campaigns. With the number of telephone connections in Delhi touching 4.28 crore, averaging two mobile numbers per Delhiite (according to the Delhi Statistical Handbook-2013), will tele-campaigns impact the choice of voters? Metrolife spoke to Delhiites, party members and experts to explore the effectiveness of tele-campaigns.

The following day, Anil Ahuja, a retired government official, saw the news about tele-campaigns flashing across news channels, he says, “It was surprising to hear Kejriwal taking pauses during his recorded message as if he was waiting for my reply. He delivered his argument against Congress and BJP, stating that not only Congress but BJP too is at fault for all the scams because over the last seven years, it was BJP which took control of MCD.” He adds, “For years these party leaders have come for door-to-door campaigning around elections and never ever returned to fulfil their promises. It is now convenient to do it over phone. If I keep on getting these calls, I would rather
put my number in Do Not Disturb list,” said Anil Ahuja, sounding miffed.

While it is irritating for Ahuja to receive such calls, Rajesh Kumar, head administrator in a law-firm, says, “I carefully listened to the recorded message. Having spent so much time, money and energy on everything varying from a DDA allotment or getting a certificate from MCD, I want a change in the system. So, after listening to the message, I thought of passing it around in the office as well.”

AAP’s researcher Vinay Kumar Mittal explains the rationale behind the campaign, “We have always been looking out for innovative and low-cost methods to reach out to people. Through this, we intend to reach out to people personally who are away from the ambit of our social media campaigns.” He adds, “Not everybody has computers or access to easy information but everybody seems to be having phones, even in the jhuggi-jhopdis. Though we are not segmenting at this stage, we are trying to reach out to everybody through our volunteers.” Claiming that it’s not the first time that tele-calls have been used as a campaign technique, he says, “These 58 seconds to one minute long recorded messages were also effectively used back in 2004 by BJP using Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s voice to influence the mood of the voters.”

Commenting upon the diversification of campaigning tactics, a fellow from Centre for the Study for Developing Societies(CSDS) comments, “Taking into consideration the penetration of phones, AAP devised this tele-tactic this year. With their auto-rickshaw campaigns they had already rattled other parties.” He went on to say, “People do not only depend upon television, newspaper or radio for information. While parties cannot ignore this technique, there’s always a chance that it would backfire owing to intrusion of personal spaces by parties.”

Comments (+)