The war of ballots in Jamshedpur Lok Sabha constituency might be a few days away, but sitting MP Dr Ajoy Kumar has already emerged victorious on another battlefield. The cop-turned-politico has clearly aced his rivals in terms of popularity among Netizens with his active presence on social media like Facebook and Twitter.
While his two main opponents, BJP’s Bidyut Baran Mahto and JMM’s Niroop Mahanty are relying largely on street campaigns to woo voters, Kumar and his team have launched a parallel canvassing exercise on cyberspace.
The Jamshedpur MP’s Facebook page had 23,806 ‘likes’, while his Twitter account had 505 followers (till 8.45pm on Sunday, when this report was filed). Mahto and Mahanty, on the other hand, had 158 and 137 ‘likes’, respectively. Neither are on Twitter.
As part of the online campaign, Facebook and Twitter pages of the sitting MP are showcasing his work since 2011 by-elections. This apart, pages list areas he aims to focus on if he retains his seat. Among these are entrepreneurship, rural electrification and city law and order. Newspaper articles also find a place on his social pages.
So, what makes Kumar the most sought-after Jharkhand politician on the Internet?
The MP’s son Aditya, actively involved in his father’s pre-poll campaigns, said the answer lay in Kumar’s approach to politics. “He (Kumar) is a very approachable public figure. So, his Facebook and Twitter pages foster interaction between people and their elected representative,” he added.
Aditya, a lawyer, further said every post on the MP’s Facebook wall got a reply or at least a ‘like’. “That’s done so that people feel free to share their opinions with their MP,” he said.
But, how does Kumar reply to every post while he is on campaign trail for hours at a stretch. “A dedicated team at the MP’s office updates Facebook and Twitter pages. He is consulted on every question and answers are posted accordingly,” said Aditya.
City-based professional Navneet Singh (25), a regular follower of the MP’s Facebook page, accepted that prompt responses from Kumar’s side went a long way in creating an approachable image.
“I post on his wall regarding various issues. On every occasion, I get a response. This promptness sets him apart from other politicians. As a voter and a citizen, I feel that if I need his help, he is close at hand,” said Singh.
Deputy manager of an infrastructure firm Zaki Ahmed echoed Singh. “For a common man, meeting an MP at his residence or office involves hassles. Thanks to the power of social media and Ajoy Kumar’s promptness, we can share our problems with him directly,” the 40-year-old said.
What does the MP himself have to say about the importance of social media campaigns in contemporary polls?
“I wanted to reach out to maximum people across the country and share information about ground realities of areas in Jamshedpur constituency and how rural and urban living standards can improve. For this, social media was the perfect tool. Often, like-minded well-wishers share their opinions and we incorporate them in our action plan,” said Kumar.
BJP’s Bidyut Baran Mahto said elections were not fought on social networking sites. “I am a son of the soil. Facebook and Twitter users are a minuscule part of people in Jamshedpur constituency. I do not think I need to build a social media campaign,” he said.
But he added the BJP had already launched an elaborate canvassing exercise on Internet. “There is a NaMo wave on Facebook and Twitter. So, I do not think I need to launch an individual campaign,” he said.