#AssamPolls: Focus on social media as phase 1 campaign ends

It’s all on the voters now. Campaigning for the first phase of the Assam Assembly polls to be held across 65 Assembly constituencies in the Upper Assam and Barak Valley belt concluded at 5 pm on Saturday. The 65 constituencies will poll on April 4 while the second and last phase of polls comprising 61 constituencies will be on April 11.

The campaign ended on a high note for all the political parties as they roped in top campaigners to woo the voters. With battlelines drawn, the focus has now shifted to door-to-door campaigning and the social media which has been used extensively by the political parties.

Putting out a video message of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP Assam Pradesh Facebook page says, “BJP is the only party which can fulfill the aspirations of the people of Assam. It is going to bring the development for which people of Assam have been waiting since Independence. We need ‪#‎BJP4Assam.”

For Congress, the war-room boys are leaving no stone unturned either. Posting content for youth consumption, the Assam Pradesh Youth Congress Facebook page has been posting interesting Memes targeting the BJP, video bytes of various party leaders and also the theme song for the campaign – a peppy number by Dikshu & Kalpana Patowary. The theme song has been viewed more than 14,000 times in past 12 hours. The video, interestingly, carries a montage of the achievements of the Congress government in the past 15 years of rule in the state. Among the main highlights are roads, sports infrastructure, small-scale industries, petrochemicals, education and financial institutions. The interestingly crafted video gives due credit to the various ethnic groups as well.

Here’s the BJP’s campaign song sung by Zubeen Garg.

The regional parties seem lacking in the social media front as they hardly exist in the new media bandwagon. Maulana Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) has a public group with around 20,000 members on Facebook but there is no official line of communication therein. The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which is contesting the elections in partnership with the BJP, also has limited presence.

Former Congress minister and current BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma appears much ahead in terms of social media use. The former health and education minister has around 55,000 followers on Twitter while his verified Facebook page has over 1.62 lakh likes. Sarma is using his social media accounts to share his political views, updates from the campaign trail and occasional discussions and attacks on the Congress government.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi, on the other hand, has seen rapid rise in online reputation as the 79-year-old is seen growing popularity amongst the social media users. Gogoi is doing Hangout sessions and has an interactive website besides being present on the ‘traditional’ Facebook and Twitter.

Gogoi is using Twitter to reach his 30,000 followers with his political views and updates on the election process. The social media accounts are widely used to publicize the ‘15-years of development’ message which is the core campaign message for the party. But, his much publicized website is “under construction” since almost a month now.

With a day to go for polls in more than half of the total Assembly seats, it will be interesting to note where the swing is and in the battle of votes, who wins the chair. Can Sarbananda Sonowal break the Tarun Gogoi spell? Or, will the 79-year-old have the last laugh? That is also an important matter!

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