Battle begins in earnest now

Battle begins in earnest now

Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress and Aam Aadmi Party are seriously vying for your vote in Delhi, deploying every electioneering tool possible – from door-to-door padyatras to campaigns on social media.

But door-to-door electioneering remains a favourite. Candidates are seen moving around their constituency with a bunch of supporters. These visits lead to small interactions with the voters. From first-timers to veterans, all candidates go for these.

“No candidate can sit at home and rely on advertisements. Door-to-door campaigns give people a chance to interact with the leaders. The basic concept of these campaigns is to know the mood of  the voters,” Delhi Congress spokesperson Mukesh Sharma says.

“If any individual or group of voters are dissatisfied, they can easily ask questions to the candidate about any issue. The leader also gets a chance to clear confusion and gain support,” Sharma says.

The padyatras or foot marches seem to be effective, but it is practically impossible for any candidate to cover a given constituency entirely through a door-to-door campaign. So posters, hoardings, ads on autorickshaws and cycle-rickshaws enter the poll scene.On the go ads

AAP, BJP and Congress candidates are covering entire constituencies with ‘on the go’ advertisements. While AAP is using Arvind Kejriwal's voice in loudspeakers mounted on autorickshaws, BJP is using its new anthem with the voice of its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

Some 3,500 hoardings and posters of Modi have been put up inside Metro stations and trains after taking permission from the Election Commission of India. 

eg. Communications Pvt Ltd, which handles Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s advertisement space, says posters have been pasted inside 30 trains. 

“The contract is for 21 days and costs Rs 2.5 lakh per train,” company spokesperson Parveen Gupta says.

The ‘Abki Baar, Modi Sarkar’ advertisements issued by the BJP headquarters in the capital have also succeeded in attracting commuters’ attention, sometimes initiating  political debate on trains. It helps create the impression that Modi is everywhere now.But some fans of  AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal insist that Modi depends too much on advertisements. 

“BJP can put up posters across the country, but Kejriwal visits every nook and cranny. That is the difference between the two leaders,” Abhishek Rawat, an employee of Fortis Hospital in Gurgaon, says.

It is not the first time political ads are being seen in Metro trains. Ads were regularly put up by the former Sheila Dikshit-led government. They also featured Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. This time, however, Congress refused a proposal by the advertisement firm for publicity on Metro.

“Though the ad space in Metro stations and trains are outsourced, we do monitor the content. We don’t have any issue if advertisements are carried out legally and with permission when it comes to publicity before elections,” a DMRC spokesperson says.

Surprisingly, Congress candidates are not using recorded voices of Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or Rahul Gandhi. The voices don't feature in messages played out from loudspeaker-mounted campaign vehicles. Instead, candidates blare out their own ‘achievements’. Ajay Maken from New Delhi constituency, Kapil Sibal from Chandni Chowk and other party candidates have put up their individual posters at many places – without the photographs of these senior leaders. 

“We have planned a constituency-specific campaign. In New Delhi area, we are using radio jingles, in North-East we are using posters and banners extensively. We have deployed an army of volunteers from Youth Congress to handle the social media campaign, and 500 people are handling electronic campaigns,” Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely says.

But both BJP and Congress are relying on their star campaigner. While Modi had addressed a rally a large rally on March 26, Sonia was set to address a public meeting on Sunday. Kejriwal has been virtually missing from Delhi so far, and AAP campaign in the city may have lost some steam because of it. A party spokesperson says Kejriwal is likely to address a meeting in Delhi soon.

On the phone

Kejirwal’s recorded voice calls are being used extensively by the AAP. In them, Kejriwal boasts about the ‘achievements’ of his 49-day rule in Delhi. “After the independence of India, no government has ever done so many things is such short span what we have done in 49 days,” the call says

WhatsApp Messenger has emerged as a handy agent of electoral campaign for some parties. 

Trinamool Congress (TMC), which is nurturing ambition to be a major player in national politics, is regularly updating the media and party volunteers through videos and photos of its ongoing campaigns on WhatsApp.

“Every day, once the campaigning is over, I make it a point to circulate videos among the media, party volunteers and my friends. WhatsApp is a user-friendly campaign tool,” TMC candidate from Chandni Chowk Hari Om Sharma says. The videos show candidates interacting with people, speaking of their agenda and the potential voters’ response.

“I think videos give voters a fair idea of what we as politicians are up to before the polls,” Sharma adds.

AAP is exploiting both Facebook and WhatsApp to circulate videos of campaign trails of its candidates.

“We are trying to connect with the urban middle class through Facebook,” Amit, PRO of the AAP’s South Delhi candidate Devindra Sehrawat, says. “Sehrawat’s videos will focus on him being projected as an activist with a clean image and how residents of South Delhi are responding to him,” Amit adds.

“We regularly send campaign videos by WhatsApp to people whose numbers we had taken during door-to-door campaigning. We also use YouTube for promoting candidates,” Amit says.

BJP, too, is active on social media. Family members of its candidates regularly update the media and party volunteers of their campaign schedules through WhatsApp. When candidates run behind schedule, WhatsApp is used to alert reporters.

With inputs from Abhishek Anand, Vishnu Sukumaran and Ritwika Mitra

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