Patna, April 5: The probable game-changer of elections, social media, has been a no-show in the Pataliputra and Patna Sahib constituencies.
As the elections draw near, youths and working professionals are discussing issues related to it on social networking websites. With that, they also wonder why the leaders contesting the elections are hardly to be found on the sites. For all of them it is not a case of being unaware of the Internet’s reach but a preference for the traditional campaigning methods.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharti — fighting in Pataliputra — has an account on Twitter. She has 77 followers. Among the contestants — the other being Ram Kripal Yadav and Ranjan Prasad Yadav — Misa is again the only one on Facebook too.
In the Patna Sahib constituency, JD(U)’s Dr Gopal Prasad and actor-turned politician Kunal Singh, who is batting for the Congress, have Facebook accounts. However, they are far from being active on the sites.
The last post of Dr Prasad was on December 29 last year — about a classical musical programme at Bharatiya Nritya Kala Mandir.
The Patna Sahib Aam Aadmi Party candidate, Parveen Amanullah, has a website to her name, but it is operated by her son Azmat.
“The Lok Sabha elections is the most talked about issue on both Facebook and Twitter. We write one post on the polls and dozens of people start commenting. But I wonder why I don’t see the people who are actually contesting the elections say anything. It would have been interesting to see how they directly replied to the common man’s views,” said Amit Kumar, a student of AN College.
Congress’s Patna Sahib candidate Kunal said: “I agree that social networking sites are important but I think it would still take around five to 10 years for it to be fit-for-use for electioneering in Bihar. I used to be regular on Facebook when I was in Mumbai but I am not able to use it these days because of my hectic campaign schedule. Besides, except for Bankipore and Digha, majority of my constituency fall in the rural areas where very few people have access to the Internet. So, I prefer the conventional door-to-door campaigning.”
Azmat has started the website, www.parveenamanullah.com, and updates the Aam Aadmi Party’s Patna page on Facebook with Parveen’s campaign schedule. But, he also said: “The penetration of the social media among voters in Patna is still comparatively low. So, we are concentrating more on the conventional methods of electioneering.”
Web experts expressed surprise at the candidates’ thumbs-down to the Internet.
“I agree that electioneering through social networking websites might not work very well in the rural areas but I am surprised to see that candidates in urban constituencies such as Patna Sahib are ignoring this powerful medium. Most youngsters and working professionals in the age group of 18-35 years log into either Facebook or Twitter two to three times a day. This provides a direct medium for the candidates to interact with the voters. The candidates, however, seem to bank more on the traditional modes of electioneering,” said Jai Vardhan, an e-commerce expert working in Noida.