National security was an issue that found a mention in almost all of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 144 rallies which he addressed across the nation during the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
On the other side of the political spectrum, Congress president Rahul Gandhi promised NYAY (Nyuntam Aay Yojana), a minimum-income guarantee scheme for the 20 per cent of the poorest people in the country, if elected to power.
With both the leaders pushing hard to take their narratives to the masses, a study by the Centre for the Studies of Developing Societies (CSDS) to assess the impact of social media and smartphones on voters in the country shows that the awareness about Balakot airstrikes among various categories of social media users was much higher than NYAY.
According to the CSDS survey on 24,236 voters during April and May across 211 parliamentary constituencies, nearly 90 per cent of all the users having high, moderate or low exposure to social media had heard about the airstrikes, whereas 68 per cent of even those with no exposure were aware of it.
On the other hand, 77 per cent of the users with high social media exposure had heard about the NYAY scheme, while almost half of the respondents who were not exposed to any kind of social media were found to be completely unaware of the scheme.
Based on frequency – daily, weekly, rarely, or never used – of usage too, a similar trend was observed.
For instance, three-fourth of social media users with daily, weekly or rare usage of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram and Youtube were found to have knowledge about NYAY, while one in every two non-users were unaware of the scheme.
“The Congress perhaps relied more on social media but could never actually communicate to the real beneficiaries of the scheme — the ones who lack resources to be on these social media platforms,” the report read.
On the contrary, awareness about the airstrikes was high in daily as well as weekly and rare users of social media.
Moreover, nearly seven in every 10 non-users as well had heard about the airstrikes.
While over 90 per cent daily users of all other social media platforms had knowledge about the airstirkes, the figure was the lowest at 86 per cent for daily Twitter users.
Other than this, the report shows that awareness of the slogan, 'Chowkidar chor hai' used by Gandhi to attack Modi was marginally more than Bharatiya Janata Party's counter to it – the ‘Main bhi chowkidar’ slogan.
Overall, half of the non-users had no knowledge of any of the two slogans, whereas roughly 80 per cent of the respondents having high exposure to social media were found to have heard about them.