Countdown on, but outdoor campaigning yet to pick up

See no election activity on the streets? There’s a reason: much of the canvassing has moved online
Last Updated 26 March 2019, 14:32 IST

Elections are coming up in three weeks, and Bengaluru is yet to see any canvassing outdoors.

A big reason for the lack of enthusiasm outside is that campaigning has moved online.

Metrolife visited the offices of the BJP in Malleswaram and Congress on Queens Road, and found no bustle typical of the election season.

Bharath, a BJP worker, was among the handful at the party office. “The IT cells in every party are doing the work of contacting people,” he says, explaining the sparse turn-out at the office.

While the BJP and the Congress are fighting it out on Twitter, WhatsApp and such other platforms, the JD(S), which has entered into an electoral alliance with the Congress, is the least upbeat about digital campaigning.

“One thing that needs to be understood is that we are a party with a rural base, with a smaller urban presence. We have enough strength to help our partners win,” says Tanveer Ahmed, national spokesman for JD(S).

Only on the field do people ask questions and hold the leader accountable. Social media is a good accompanying platform, but the real campaigning will begin on the streets soon, he told Metrolife.

Dr C N Ashwath Narayan, BJP legislator from Malleswaram, says coordination takes place online while the ground work takes place at the booth and constituency levels.

“The reporting system has become simpler and more efficient as ground reports and messages are shared on online platforms like WhatsApp,” he says.

Social media has become important especially in the light of restrictions placed on outdoor displays by the Election Commission.

“Though social media is effective, door-to-door campaigning and meetings prove stronger and helps us directly converse with the public,” he told Metrolife. Citizens feel online platforms have reduced the clamour on the streets and that is for the better.

Dr Vikram Kashyap, retired neurosurgeon, is all for TV and digital media.

Outdoor campaigning causes traffic jams, and is not so good for the environment, he says. “I dread to think what is going to happen in the next few days as the campaigning starts heating up,” he says.

V S Sreedhara, retired professor, National Law School University of India, says online platforms score by being interactive.

“If there is no dialogue, online campaigning is just a new garb for an old method,” he says.

Public debates on serious problems have not yet become a part of the election discourse this time. Candidates are talking more about emotions such as nationalism than about problems such as poverty and unemployment, he says.

“It doesn’t really bring any solace to people. There is no deep engagement with the burning issues of our times,” he says.

Sreedhara also says campaigning has moved to the film screens, with biopics and war films promoting leaders.

“It is not simply coincidental; three or four films are directly talking about patriotism and terrorism. They are trying to divert attention from real issues,” he says.

Elections are slated in Karnataka in two phases on April 18 and 23.

Movie factor
The trailer of Vivek Oberoi-starrer ‘PM Narendra Modi’ is set for an April 5 release, just days before the elections. ‘My Name is RaGa,’ a biopic on Rahul Gandhi, is in the making.

(Published 26 March 2019, 14:23 IST)

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