Not just on ground, the MCD battle between BJP and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is being fought on social media too, with the saffron party taking a slight lead in setting the narrative.
With a growing number of millenial users on app, both the parties have not spared even Instagram to campaign for the upcoming polls. From Instagram reels to poster wars on Twitter, the fight can be seen on every digital platform.
The preparation for the upcoming civic polls started months before for the incumbent party, which has been dominating the municipal corporation for 15 years in Delhi. While AAP has made and showcased its war room for the elections, the BJP has been working with national spokesperson Shehzaad Poonawala as its ‘prabhari’ for social media and Dr Rohit Upadhyay as convenor of the wing. Punit Agrawal too plays a crucial role as IT head to boost the work done by the entire team.
Both the parties also try hard to push their hashtags against each other on Twitter. Despite being in an incumbent position in the municipal corporation, the Delhi unit of BJP attacks ministers and leaders of AAP, levelling charges of corruption against them on a daily basis. On its part, the Arvind Kejriwal-led party, which is now stuck with Gujarat assembly and Delhi civic polls at the same time, is limited to just defence against the charges.
Though Delhi BJP claims to be low-key when it comes to digital strategy unlike AAP, the reality is that the party has been taking the social media game very seriously with poster wars and video spoofs. This has forced AAP to up the ante in the last few days as the city nears poll dates.
An insider at the Pandit Pant Marg office of Delhi BJP says: “We know that the youth are mostly on social media and seldom watch TV news. Hence, our strategy becomes crucial here. We have been given the opportunity to organically reach out to them across social media platforms and expose the lies and scams of Delhi government which is led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.”
As per the details, Delhi BJP has more than 4,000 active ideologically driven digital volunteers who help it reach out to the masses. They also act as on-ground support when it comes to holding protests.
There are also thousands of WhatsApp groups that are currently buzzing with several messages every day, setting the narrative in the national capital.
Everything that the BJP’s social media team does is in sync with the issues that are picked by the state and national leadership. Some approvals in form of guidance have to be sought from MCD campaign head Ashish Sood.
Those watching the BJP’s poll strategy closely have observed that in just a couple of minutes, the social media or digital wing is ready with a poster or video attack against the AAP, which often finds space in TV news.
“We are more creative while our political opponents are running the entire campaign by injecting huge amount of cash, followed by advertisement. Since we do not have our stake in the state government, we mostly rely on our volunteers and digital strategy,” said a key BJP leader on condition of anonymity.
The party has also hired fresh young talent to design cartoons and memes as part of election strategy.
While the digital game is strong, local-level issues — which the public expects to be raised by all parties — seem to have taken a backseat. The problems of garbage, sanitation, and proper drainage among others are missing from the lofty campaigns.
So far, it seems to be a tough fight for both the parties in the now-unified Delhi Municipal Corporation polls though the BJP’s Delhi unit has managed to make some strides in the past few months.
The MCD polls were to be announced in April but were deferred on the pretext of unification of then three different MCDs. Since then, major corruption accusations have been pressed against sitting ministers and prominent leaders of AAP.
This has helped the BJP shift focus of the voters from AAP’s successful win in Punjab assembly elections held earlier this year.
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