Here's how social media is shaping the narrative in Bihar elections- The New Indian Express

This is how social media is shaping the narrative in Bihar elections- The New Indian Specific


On-line Desk

The recently-concluded Bihar election cliffhanger had seen each occasion strive its hand at digital campaigns. This in a state the place web penetration stays comparatively low. 

Latest web subscription knowledge launched by TRAI said that there have been a complete of 43.88 million (four crores roughly) subscribers in Bihar as of September 2019, which translated to 30.68 subscribers per 100 individuals – the bottom ratio amongst states. (This was leaving out the North East, the place knowledge was given for all the area.)

So, even when events succeeded in scaling up their web presence, the rewards may have been restricted – even for the mighty IT wing of the BJP. However the place did the events focus their energies on throughout elections?

Nothing beats WhatsApp

Greater than websites like Twitter and Fb, it was WhatsApp that captured the creativeness of campaigners and with good cause. The messaging app has lengthy develop into the layman’s companion and its teams present an ideal platform to dispatch propaganda to a lot of individuals at one go.

“In rural Bihar, unhindered electrical energy all through the day continues to be a miracle. So, it’s no marvel that the affect of social media is negligible. However WhatsApp forwards at all times provoke political discussions and other people share them relying on their leanings,” stated a voter who did not want to be named.

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V Arun Kumar, central coordinator of ‘Mahagathbandhan’ member CPI-ML’s social media group, agreed. “We had created teams at Panchayat ranges and tried so as to add the utmost variety of individuals to those teams. A Panchayat in locations like Tarari might need had greater than 30 teams. It was not a one-way road and we addressed many queries on DM although this may show time-consuming,” he stated. The CPI-ML, it have to be famous, gained 12 of the 19 seats they contested.

Comparable views had been shared by the RJD, which emerged as the only largest occasion in Bihar. They revealed how planning accomplished two years in the past got here in useful.

“We had a membership plan in 2018, our employees collected cellular numbers on the village degree and district degree by visiting these locations and listed 1 crore numbers. So this was a system we had been creating however not realizing that it could be helpful now,” stated Dr Nawal Kishore, nationwide spokesperson for RJD.

Kishore reasoned that although the RJD social media handles have lakhs of followers throughout social media platforms, the fact of the scenario was completely different.

“The web connectivity in Bihar is round 37 per cent based on knowledge and smartphone possession is 27 per cent. That was the fact. In that scenario, WhatsApp numbers helped or SMS too. We reached out to the individuals or at the least to our employees. We shared social media posts and movies via them on Twitter and Fb,” he added.

The BJP had earlier instructed media that they employed 9,500 IT cell heads as admins for round 72,000 WhatsApp teams on the sales space ranges to propagate speeches and movies of their leaders. The groups had been monitored by the occasion’s nationwide IT cell, which supervised the entire marketing campaign.

What about Twitter and Fb? 

Many Bihar leaders don’t have a verified Twitter account and even those that are on the microblogging website don’t get pleasure from the identical following as leaders of different states. Twitter nonetheless stays a BJP-NDA bastion within the digital world.

“Twitter may be very urban-oriented. We had been utilizing it however to not an ideal extent. We had recognized salient points like unemployment which we felt may work nicely on Twitter. We created movies and different content material highlighting these points,” Arun stated. 

RJD’s Kishore, in the meantime, felt Twitter and Fb each served their personal distinct functions. “Fb has extra of a basic viewers involving a lot of individuals whereas it was completely different for Twitter. On Fb, giant textual content material like letters to individuals may be shared whereas on Twitter a phrase restrict is there.

“However everyday issue-based, necessary statements went on Twitter and had extra affect as newspapers picked these up. Each have completely different sort of impacts. When shared on Fb, it was for the general public. With Twitter, it has restricted viewers however they had been impactful because the media picked up debates and posts,” he stated.

YouTube was huge

Movies on cellphones are actually huge in India and Bihar was no exception.

“In Bihar, social media use may be very much less, principally restricted to children. However YouTube movies are in style. Typically you see individuals watching them whereas travelling and lots of play information in Hindi and hearken to the audio,” says Tumul Singh, a 23-year-old from Bihar. 

A fast take a look at any of the foremost occasion’s social media pages reinforces Tumul’s statement. Each public assembly was accessible on-line together with professionally-made brief clips designed to catch individuals’s consideration.

The CPI-ML used video messaging too. “We confirmed individuals what the ruling NDA had been claiming on burning points like unemployment first. Then we fact-checked and dissected it with knowledge,” stated Arun concerning the sort of movies that his group focuses on.

“We did not have firms or consultancies working our social media technique. We see social media as a software to amplify the individuals’s voice,” stated Arun.

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His four-member group operated out of the Left occasion’s Bihar workplace with two devoted recruits completely specializing in content material manufacturing.

“Our technique was very decentralised. The group right here within the capital did not create the narrative. The content material at all times got here from the bottom and the social media groups on the district degree rerouted them right here if wanted,” he stated.

What did it imply for the leaders?

Having been CM for 15 lengthy years, Nitish Kumar’s social media presence is substantial. His Fb web page has received over 1.5 million likes whereas his Twitter followers’ rely tops 6 million.

Nitish’s politics circled round social engineering and the large query was if the JDU camp may use social media to make younger voters consider in him?

“Web penetration in Bihar is comparatively much less in comparison with different states. The urban-rural divide in Bihar is lopsided in the direction of the latter, so that you had to have on-ground rallies and the whole lot couldn’t be on-line. Nonetheless, all leaders together with Nitish and Tejashwi determined to go surfing for his or her first spherical of campaigning utilizing social media. This was an excellent begin for India because it exhibits even for states which are behind the curve, it’s potential,” noticed Dr Samir Kapur, writer of ‘When India Votes’.

Half full Half empty

Whereas many consultants together with Dr Kapur agree that there’s restricted web penetration, RJD’s Kishore instructed that an affect was made regardless of that.

“The information suggests restricted utilization however how I see it’s if one particular person in a household has an Android cellphone, then the household can get suggestions from that particular person. Identical to we hearken to songs or films with household, if somebody in a village sees a gathering, she or he can share it with mates. It has a multiplier impact,” the RJD spokesperson stated explaining the way it labored.

Kishore’s chief Tejashwi Yadav has over 2.5 million and 1.5 million followers on Twitter and Fb respectively. Tejashwi didn’t simply set data when it got here to holding rallies, he wasn’t shy to converse with the individuals nearly too.

Other than transient stay movies, his marketing campaign rallies throughout the state had been streamed on-line they usually had been all nicely acquired.

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When requested concerning the distinction in affect created by social media within the brief span between the Lok Sabha elections and Bihar Meeting elections, Kishore stated, “In 2019, it was a distinct scenario, we approached the individuals principally via conferences.

“However this time, we reached out each in particular person and on social media. If there was a gathering, occasion social media handles would go stay on the identical time. Be it Naukari Samvad or Yuva Samvad within the night for 30 minutes, it was carried out utilizing FB or Twitter stay extensively,” the spokesperson added.

The JD(U) hosted weekly lives and streams the Chief Minister’s digital conferences. They shared slogans, graphics and movies although their attain paled compared to that the BJP instructions.

When it got here to PM Modi’s occasion, they divided Bihar into 5,500 mandals and 9,500 Shakti Kendras. Every Shakti Kendra was requested to monitor the functioning of six to seven cubicles. A serious element of BJP’s social media technique was highlighting the event achieved by the central authorities underneath the PM, these following the marketing campaign stated.

Dr Kapur stated the BJP was clever to strategise social media and use it to take their pro-people schemes to the individuals. This labored of their favour. “We won’t say social media influenced the vote in Bihar however after all it helped the BJP increase an consciousness that their CM and PM  labored for the poor,” he stated.

Within the first huge post-Covid election in India, each the foremost fronts made all their launches by way of digital rallies. “In all probability for the primary time, the comparatively backward state couldn’t escape the onslaught of social media – partly as a result of pressured circumstances and likewise due to the millennials and youth,” stated Dr Kapur.

“Social media individuals to be extra artistic. It’s going to catch momentum all through the nation and this can be a good starting,” he added.

Requested what labored probably the most through the campaigning, Dr Kishore stated, “Small movies, I felt, have the capability to make most affect. One to three-minute movies with correct messaging. These show straightforward to ahead as nicely. Then, photos with quotes do nicely too.”

What’s subsequent?

Going ahead, social media technique for political events will probably be to tell, have interaction and affect, stated Dr Kapur. He was constructive that after holding digital rallies and teleconferences, political events will quickly experiment with Augmented and Digital actuality in future polls. 

“In future, there may be no political marketing campaign sans social media as an necessary medium. Whereas the informing half served higher in Bihar this time, elevated web penetration would result in increased engagement and extra experiments,” he stated. 

Fast look:

RJD – Quick movies nearly each different put up, excessive moments of Tejashwi’s rallies

JDU – Reside movies of assembly lasting over 20 minutes, much less brief content material or photograph posts

BJP (Bihar handles) – Quick movies of Modi speeches, photograph posts of Modi


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