E-campaigns take off as candidates target GenY

April 3rd, 2009 - 11:07 am ICT by IANS  

Rahul Gandhi By Azera Rahman
New Delhi, April 3 (IANS) With the Lok Sabha elections looming close and fast, e-campaign by politicians is on an upswing.

Trying to woo the tech-savvy young generation which is wired 24/7, leaders like L.K. Advani and Rahul Gandhi are going beyond creating webpages; they are reaching out through SMSes, blogs and YouTube video clips.

Abhishek Singhvi, a 25-year-old IT professional, said that lately he has been receiving a barrage of text messages from the campaign office of L.K. Advani, the prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“I have been getting a number of text messages on the BJP’s IT vision. There was one which said that if voted to power, Advani will provide laptops worth Rs.10,000 each to 10 million students and IT-enabled jobs to 12 million in the rural areas - which is brilliant,” Singhvi told IANS.

For this Blackberry phone carrying, constantly wired youngster, the e-campaign is the only thing that will help him make a conscious decision while casting his vote May 7, when polling takes place in Delhi.

“I am constantly wired, yet with my tight work schedule I hardly have time to even interact with my family, let alone sit through a news bulletin on TV. Therefore such initiatives are good for people like me to become more aware of the key issues of the political parties.

“I don’t know if they (BJP) will actually do it if they come to power, but it means that they are at least thinking in that direction. As a voter, such developments which will help the country move hand in hand with other developed nations is my priority,” Singhvi said.

Anshika Borah, an M.Phil student in Delhi University, is happy to have received a text message on the BJP’s promise to work for the girl child.

“There is no end to the number of issues that need attention from the government. But, personally, I think the problem of female foeticide is a crying one demanding immediate attention. The other day I received a text message saying that Advani promises to implement the Ladli Laxmi Yojana for the girl child.

“The present government has been working on women’s development issues, but that has not really brought down the foeticide rate. My decision on whom to vote for therefore will rest on all such parameters and will definitely not be like the last time when I simply voted randomly, and wasted my right to choose a responsible candidate,” Borah said.

Trying to appeal to the youth - around 100 million people in the age group 18-24 will be eligible to vote for the first time these elections - the 81-year-old i-phone carrying Advani wrote in his blog (www.lkadvani.in): “In my own political life spanning six decades, I have enthusiastically embraced every new communication technology - from the early simple Casio digital diary to i-pod and i-phone.”

Like Advani, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi has a large fan following on popular social networking sites like Orkut and Facebook.

Varsha Sharma, a second year college student, is one of the more than 10,000 members of the “Rahul Gandhi fan club” on Orkut.

“Somehow the sight of haggard old politicians digging up age-old issues over and over again in newspapers and on TV puts me off. Young, educated and suave politicians like Rahul Gandhi are however like a whiff of fresh air,” said Sharma, who will be voting for the first time and has Rahul Gandhi’s photograph as the screen saver of her mobile phone.

“Rahul Gandhi visits colleges, mixes around with students, talks like any of us and speaks on issues that we can relate to. We have active discussions on Orkut every time he gives a speech,” she said.

Video clips of the political leaders campaigning and giving speeches which are uploaded on the popular video sharing site YouTube have also received thousands of hits.

The hate speeches purportedly given by the BJP’s Pilibhit candidate Varun Gandhi were uploaded on YouTube and received thousands of hits. And while there were several voices criticising him, there were many supporting him as well. The supporters have now created fan clubs of the ‘other’ Gandhi on Orkut and Facebook.

(Azera Rahman can be contacted at azera.p@ians.in )

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