Social media has changed the way for politics – just imagine, in the 2019 Indian general elections alone, political campaigners will be injecting millions of dollars to promote their campaigns digitally through various forms of social media. Elections are just months away, and the ruling party and other major political parties have already begun campaigning in full swing.
While all the social media strategists have swung into action, it is the ruling party again in India that has come in the forefront, reaching out to 900,000 people in a single day with the PMO’s twitter handle. #MainBhiChowkidaar is trending and attracting overwhelming responses from netizens in India, and around the globe.
This is not the first time that the Bhartiya Janata Party has managed to bring in much public scrutiny and fervour with its brazen social media strategy. Prior to the run up for the 2014 elections a similar controversy fuelled over Modi’s background as a Chaiwalla or ‘tea seller’ which was turned against the ruling Indian National Congress. This time though, BJP has taken a step forward with their tag #MainBhiChowkidaar which was adopted almost unanimously by MP’s and party officials in their twitter handle.
This in fact was not the beginning, but as the battle on social media continues it was taken as a step forward to turn it against the Congress and its President Rahul Gandhi. Back in 2018, in a rally in Dungarpur in the state of Rajasthan President Rahul had stated “Gali gali mein shor hai, Hindustan ka chowkidar chor hai” ( There are voices out on the alleyway that the guard of India is a thief). Towards the end of the year the Indian National Congress emerged as the largest party securing 99 seats in the state legislative assembly in Rajasthan.
It will be a formidable battle between the two National parties, and the bugle for battle may have started from social media through Twitter and of course it has been reported that billions of rupees are going to be spent through digital marketing. Social media strategists have to be unique and out of the box to attract more people as the polls draw closer. #MainBhiChowkidar might have just clicked with the rising middle class especially of what they had to see over the past month.
Let us not forget that India faced one of the deadliest attacks on its security forces in Pulwama, the response by the Indian Air Force 10 days later destroyed Jaish E Mohammed’s camps in Balakot, Pakistan. It was PM Modi and his determined decision where India was able to give a fitting response. The masses in general are a witness to that. It is still trending, on March 20th the PM interacted with Chowkidaars all over the country via a video conference which had 93,000 people on Twitter alone.
The opposition though is putting up a good fight, an alliance is on the cards and everything is being done to see the current BJP led government out of power. Campaigns are beginning to get stronger by the day and people are trending innovatively in order to attract large masses. Hardik Patel the youth leader of the Patidars responded by changing his Twitter handle to “Berojgar Hardik Patel”, citing the unemployed youth. Patel is wholeheartedly in support of the Indian National Congress and is of course in a mission to see BJP out of power in the coming elections.
Both sides are of course well in the race, but it seems as though with the personality of PM Modi, the Bhartiya Janata Party will emerge as the single largest party if not a majority like the previous election. His towering personality along with his extremely bold moves has caught the eye of the working class. The members of the BJP and its party cadres will have to double in their efforts. Now a legend in BJP, late Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee was denied a second term. I just hope that BJP does not make the same mistake again.
This election will be hard fought on all areas digitally, and on the ground. While the Indian National Congress has projected unemployment, corruption and lack of pace in development, the BJP has projected itself as the guardian of emerging India. Now that access is easier and people can verify information and see their particular condition, it is the values of the Indian democracy and the right of inclusiveness that will take centre stage.
Development and national security will be given prominence. New voters will get to decide their candidate and the emerging India is varied, knowledgeable and has access to information. Media campaigns and extremism will have little place when the people decide to vote.
The youth of India want security over an uncertain future. The farmers who marched all the way to the National Capital would want to make substantial changes due to rising costs and increasing suicides among them. The new India will have to be bolder not just on social media but with action that make a visible difference to the lives of the people around them.
This battle of wit over social media is only to attract crowds that may not necessarily form public opinion on who and not to vote. The people have to decide and those too who give their vote away for a meal and a bottle of alcohol. I hope to see conscious voting among the masses, India has been through trying times, and the rising working population and young hands which are empty need direction and fullness. Mere words or promises that cannot be kept will not be accepted by the people, remember it is a rising one with access to easy digital information. Let the battle over social media continue for good, for that is truly spirited democracy.
Opinions reflected in the article are of the author and do not reflect Aawaaj’s editorial stance.
Mr. Thapa currently lives in New Delhi, India, and follows Indian politics enthusiastically, therefore enabling him to make learned comments regarding scenarios as such.