By Sagar Vishnoi:
Election fever has completely gripped the Indian media. Though general elections are scheduled for 2014, social media is going gaga over Phenku, Nikku, Rambo and Pappu to echo the euphoria. In fact, the 78 million Facebook users in India might not be interested in politics at all. A study, however, clearly seems to signal that the ability to connect with voters through this medium indicates that political impact could be high. Moreover, a recent report released by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and IRIS Knowledge Foundation has revealed that of India’s 543 constituencies, 160 can be termed as ‘high impact’ — that is, they will most likely be influenced by social media in the next general elections.
Let’s have a look at India’s most social media friendly politicians:
1. Narendra Modi : PM in waiting wins the social media crown hands down for his 360 degree connect with more than 18 lakh followers on twitter and 21 lakh on Facebook. His website can put professional company run websites to shame. People are made aware about what Modi thinks, does and more importantly what he says, through a YouTube channel, blog and an active Facebook page with thousands of campaigners praising his work.
2. Shashi Tharoor: The first person to kick-start social media connect among political class has highest followers on twitter, 18 lakh. Website also gives a glimpse of his political career, self-authored books and publications.
3. Manmohan Singh: Official statements from the PMO and Manmohan Singh’s latest pictures, remarks, quotes and meetings are tweeted to his 6,32,000 followers on twitter. Though the tweets are mundane, surprisingly he is ‘speaking’ and ‘engaging’ on social media with more than 3,93,000 followers on Facebook.
4. Sushma Swaraj: With more than 5 lakh followers, Sushma uses social media to take on the ruling Congress. The leader in opposition is using social media effectively to fight battle through her speeches and regular updates.
5. Arvind Kejriwal: Millions of supporters are his strength who keep tweeting day/night about the AAP vision and movement. His relentless updating during any expose becomes viral, but still, leader of the middle class has much more to do having only 4 lakh followers on twitter and 3.4 lakh on Facebook.
6. Omar Abdullah : CM of Jammu & Kashmir has a following of more than 3 lakh followers on twitter with his micro-blogs mostly mentioning his personal side and little about official work. Whether it’s a random tweet of supporting a team in an IPL match or praising the beauty of Kashmir, he is bound to win many followers on social media.
7. Varun Gandhi : The controversial other young Gandhi with 1.4 lakh followers shares his personal views using the medium at the same time telling his followers about his public engagements. His website portrays him as the only young hope of India and has links of his videos, interviews and images. The question is, will he able to campaign well enough in the southern states allotted to him for 2014 elections?
8. Milind Deora : His presence on social media serves the purpose of making people aware of his engagements and work. He holds a following of 78,000 followers with Twitter profile description as Minister of State, Communications & IT and Shipping, Government of India; MP, Mumbai and Musician. Yes, there is even a picture of Milind Deora playing the guitar. An active website also increases his communication for perfect youth connect.
9. Navin Jindal : Mentioned as Chairman of Jindal Steel and Power Ltd. and an MP from Kurukshetra, his social media profile urges people to connect with him through latest photos, blog posts, videos and news items. Holding a following of 75,000 followers on twitter, Naveen Jindal has a well maintained website as well.
10. Mamata Banerjee : From wishing people on all the major festivals, to expressing her views on national and international events, to posting images of almost all her outings; she has 3,11,000 likes on her Facebook page and has is to be caught by the twitter bug.
The numbers, while impressive, do not yet indicate deep engagement and involvement in the political sphere. In 2014, politicians might do well to remember that a computer screen is no match for campaigning in the heat and dust of the smallest corners of the country, where the people are actually living.