Digital Divide May Give BJP an Edge, Others Will Have To Innovate To Click

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The Election Commission’s restrictions on physical rallies and roadshows due to a fresh surge in Covid-19 cases are set to play out differently for different political outfits. While tech-savvy parties like BJP may be able to exploit it better, others may have to use innovative methods.
With a ban on physical rallies till January 15 as of now, social media, local TV channels and local news websites are likely to be the main focus for smaller parties to reach out to voters.

Pitted against BJP, which is way ahead in terms of spending and technology for campaigning, most of the other parties, especially smaller entities, have decided to rely on local-level influencers rather than mainstream media to take their message to the people.

Going by the speed and scale of the spread of the pandemic, relief seems a distant possibility. Therefore, it is likely that the upcoming polls in five states will go down in history books as the first elections in India without physical rallies.

BJP’s chief spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Anil Baluni said his party had been preparing for digital and virtual campaigns for the past two years since the Covid-19 outbreak. “Our party cadres at the grassroots level have been trained on the latest technologies and how to reach out to people through digital platforms,” Baluni told TOI, adding that the party would adhere to Covid guidelines. He said training sessions for virtual campaigns had been organised at all party offices, including at the booth level.

TMC MP and spokesperson Derek O’Brien said even giant screens cannot be used as they will attract gatherings and turn into Covid super spreaders. “The first priority should be to follow Covid protocol to the hilt,” he told TOI. “We will not let out our exact strategy and allow BJP to borrow our ideas, but we will certainly not use Tek Fog-type applications that spread hate and vicious propaganda,” he said.

PM Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah, defence minister Rajnath Singh, Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath have been holding rallies and other events across UP for almost a month in the run-up to the poll date announcement.

Stating that the EC should ensure a level playing field, leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge said, “PM Modi already held various political rallies. He’s been touring for the past month and has visited UP more than 10-15 times.Only financially weaker parties will face problems; the party in office is comfortable.”

SP president Akhilesh Yadav appealed to the EC to ensure that regional parties get proper space on digital platforms. While he said the EC should assist smaller parties with limited resources, AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi said he was hopeful that the EC would review its guidelines after January 15 keeping in mind the digital divide in India, especially in UP.


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Ritu Singh seasoned news hunter with ink in veins and truth as a compass. Cuts through spin, exposes hidden agendas, decodes power plays. Unwavering voice for accountability, amplifying unheard stories. A watchdog who sleeps with one eye open, keeping democracy on its toes

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