Congress plans WhatsApp, FB blitz to reach voters

Congress plans WhatsApp, FB blitz to reach voters

The Congress social media team has been recruiting tech-savvy youngsters as part of its Digital Youth for Every Booth campaign

Have you been receiving anti-Modi and pro-Congress videos or messages on WhatsApp? Well, that is how the Congress plans to reach out to voters and counter the BJP in its own game ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

In a first, the Congress has decided to go ballistic in its campaign by using the Facebook-owned messaging platform at the booth-level and ramp up social media outreach, which is generally considered to be a space dominated by the BJP.

The Congress’ social media team has been recruiting tech-savvy youngsters as part of its ‘Digital Youth for Every Booth’ campaign. The party plans to have one youngster anchor its social media operations at each of the 56,000 polling booths across Karnataka.

The mandate for the digital youth is to push the party’s content on local WhatsApp groups they are part of. This campaign will revolve around highlighting “failures” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and “achievements” of the Congress.

India currently has over 200 million active users on WhatsApp, which has become the preferred mode for political parties to reach out to voters. For instance, in the recent May 12 Assembly polls in the state, the BJP claimed to have had the biggest network with over 42,000 WhatsApp groups.

“WhatsApp is where this election will be fought and where the voters are,” Congress’ national social media coordinator for its women’s wing Lavanya Ballal said. The former radio jockey has a team of 90 people to strategise social media outreach for the southern states.  

“Thousands of videos will be pushed out on WhatsApp and Facebook,” said Karnataka Congress social media coordinator A N Nataraj Gowda, who has a 56-member core social media

In the Assembly polls earlier this year, the Congress’ plan to roll out social media campaigns through coordinators for every Assembly constituency was not entirely successful because the process started late. “We’ve started early this time. Every Parliamentary constituency will have two social media coordinators to oversee campaigns at the booth level,” Gowda added.

The party also plans to deploy a mobile app to aid a door-to-door campaign that will be taken up ahead of the general elections.

“We piloted the app in the recent Telangana election. It basically helps us monitor the effectiveness of the door-to-door campaigns by tracking how much ground our party workers have actually covered,” Youth Congress’ national campaign coordinator Srivatsa YB said.