Big data: The new tech flavour in TN polls

 For Tamil Nadu’s political parties, technology seems to have gone beyond Facebook and Twitter.

Inspired by poll strategies abroad, outfits here jostle to deploy big data, the latest method of analysing complex data to understand the preferences of young and new-gen voters.

Parties like the ruling AIADMK, DMK, BJP and Congress have drafted in techies and consultants to fashion poll strategies out of preferences among specific voting segments, something they could discern through big data.

Election Commission sources said over one crore of the 5.79 crore eligible voters are between the age of 18 and 30. In addition, about 12 lakh electorates were included in the final rolls of the Special Summary revision-2016.

"We have created our party's own system tools on open source data that keep us in direct touch with the electorates,” DMK web director N Naveen said, adding that the party would deploy technology significantly to learn voter preferences for preparing its manifesto.

"We have also recently launched an initiative where voters could  hear the speech of our "Thalaivar" (party chief M Karunanidhi) by giving a missed call to a number", Naveen said.
As part of its “Mission 234”, signifying the 234 total Assembly seats in the state, the AIADMK has planned an online campaign called Olirum Nigazhkalam - Milirum Varumkalam (Shining present; dazzling future) through all modes, party’s IT wing Secretary Aspire K Swaminathan said.

Swaminathan said the ruling party would use all its resources to reach out to the voters online.

The BJP, which used the big data successfully in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, is planning to repeat the feat in Tamil Nadu. "We will tap the internet users in the state and will use this data to accurately understand voter sentiments and local issues", a senior BJP leader said.

Parties here may be reluctant to use data analysis for fundraising activities, but they feel it would be an ideal tool in gleaning out localised issues.

A fair share of sceptics –the PMK and Vaiko-led MDMK among them- assert that big data would be inadequate to reach rural Tamil Nadu. “A large number of people reside in the hinterland. Physical contact with voters is therefore better than any analysis,” a senior MDMK cadre pointed out.


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