Congress ups social media game ahead of elections

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday sent out a tweet asking his nearly eight million followers to join him on Facebook Live. PTI file photo

Before hitting the campaign trail in Chhatisgarh, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday sent out a tweet asking his nearly eight million followers to join him on Facebook Live.

As Rahul addressed a rally of thousands at Khairagarh in Chhatisgarh on Friday afternoon, more than one lakh viewers heard him pitch for a change in the state through his official page on Facebook, where his speech was streamed in real time. A few hours later, another 70,000 viewers heard him live from Dongargarh.

A late entrant to the social media scene, the Congress has been catching up with the BJP which utilised the virtual world to the hilt in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls campaign.

Ironically, the reasons for using the social media appear to be the same. Ahead of the 2014 elections, the BJP argued that the media – both print and television – viewed Narendra Modi through the prism of the 2002 post-Godhra riots.

Now, Congress poll managers put forth a similar complaint – the conventional media does not give an “unbiased coverage” to the party and its leader Rahul Gandhi.

“The social media presents us an outlet that has greater reach than the conventional media,” a Congress leader said.

He said it also helps the party present its leadership to the people directly, who can then form their own opinion about them instead of relying on the BJP propaganda of choicest of epithets.

Rahul's impromptu dinner with Madhya Pradesh unit leaders Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia at a popular eatery in Indore notched up 3.3 million viewership on Facebook. Similarly, his outing at an ice cream parlour also got the attention of more than a million viewers.

Narendra Modi-led BJP, too, has found innovative ways to reach out to its supporters through social media. The BJP is banking heavily on 'Brand Modi' to see it through in the next Lok Sabha elections.

Modi has been connecting to party's booth level workers through video conferencing at regular intervals. These interactions are shown live on the party's Twitter handles and other networking tools.

Congress leaders believe that Rahul is fast outpacing Modi in the virtual world as his tweets and Facebook posts have been witnessing greater engagement by netizens than that of the prime minister.

“Rahul has nearly eight million followers on Twitter, far less than that of Modi, who has more than 44 million followers,” the Congress leader said.

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Congress ups social media game ahead of elections

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