Amid EC restrictions, Goa parties step up social media polling campaign

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As the Electoral Commission (EC) extends a ban on physical gatherings and roadshows for upcoming Assembly elections in five states until January 22 amid the raging third wave of Covid, parties Goa politicians at the polls have stepped up their social media campaign in their candidacies. to seduce voters and confront their opponents.

From Facebook Live to Instagram Reels to WhatsApp groups, candidates in Goa’s election battleground are aggressively using various social media platforms to direct their messages to voters ahead of the February 14 elections.

Goa reported 2,668 new Covid cases on Friday with a positivity rate of 37.42% and nine deaths. The total number of active cases was 21,947.

All major political parties, including the ruling BJP, Congress, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the latest entrant to the fray, the Trinamool Congress (TMC), have stepped up their election campaign via social media using digital advertisements, video clips and WhatsApp groups.

Although door-to-door canvassing by their leaders has already started in parts of Goa, parties are now prioritizing their digital outreach to people. They have increased the strength of their social media cells by bringing in more “social media warriors” as they prepare for virtual rallies and more interactive engagement with voters in the coming days.

Amid the surge in Covid cases in the state since late last month, major parties have revamped their polling campaigns by stepping up their use of various social media platforms. With the EC ban on physical gatherings and roadshows coming into force since January 8, they have amplified it, giving an added boost to their engagements with voters as well as the profiles of their election candidates. on social networks.

“It is a challenge because no one has experienced such restrictions in an election campaign before. This is happening for the first time. But you have to learn about social media and you have to educate people as well,” said Goa BJP General Secretary Narendra Sawaikar, a member of the party’s election management committee.

“There’s Instagram Reels, Facebook Live, short videos for people on WhatsApp. It’s the best way to do it. There are no restrictions on meetings with only 15-20 people. So we meet people in small groups. We communicate by phone and social media,” Sawaikar said.

Tailoring their message to each of Goa’s 40 constituencies seems to have been their focus now. “We had to organize ourselves more efficiently to be able to reach the last person. We have WhatsApp groups in all constituencies. In my opinion, the younger generation is more active on Instagram Reels, but the older generation also uses smartphones and has been using them for a long time. Even seniors use FB (Facebook), WA (WhatsApp) and they know how to connect,” Sawaikar said.

The National Coordinator of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) Social Media Department in charge of Goa, Hasiba Amin, said, “Social media also gives you the opportunity for targeted messaging and engagement. At a gathering, you give a message to all who have gathered. But what social media gives you, unlike TV, is the platform for engagement. You can chat with leaders, view them on your phone. This is something that people would not have been able to do in public meetings.

She said: “We have around 2,000 WhatsApp groups to percolate down to the booth level. Our line of thinking has shifted to how we can have more engagement with our content. We are now focusing on how to have more interpersonal two-way communication on our digital platforms. »

The AAP had to incorporate more members into its 20-member social media team, a party spokesperson said. The AAP actively uses Twitter and YouTube for its social media campaign. It was uploaded on Facebook with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s party leader and door-to-door campaign in three constituencies in the state recently. The party has also regularly used Instagram memes and trends to connect with young people in the run-up to the election.

As it did in the Delhi Assembly polls in 2020, the AAP may soon roll out Kejriwal’s virtual door-to-door campaign in Goa via digital messages with the leader’s video ringing the doorbell from home and visiting people, party officials said. This will be in addition to messaging IVR (Interactive Voice Response) to people via phone calls.

The TMC which arrived in Goa with the campaign management expertise of Prashant Kishor’s iPAC, has over 2,500 social media volunteers who amplify the party’s message. According to party campaign managers, Goa has 13.5 million digital users and their target was to reach every user at least 500 times.

The TMC says WhatsApp is its biggest digital force, connected to at least 30% of Goans. More than 200 local Goa TMC leaders are active on WhatsApp groups at the stalls, the party claims.

Mobile vans fitted with screens carrying TMC polling messages, which had been deployed in each of Goa’s 40 constituencies over the past two months, were withdrawn following the entry into force of the model code of conduct of the CE on Jan. 8, an iPAC official said.

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