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Modi cyber army eyes early ambush

- Social media warriors meet to plan for 2016

If Mamata Banerjee has Maa, Mati and Manush, Narendra Modi has social media.

A band of young professionals fascinated by NaMo and united by Facebook met in a south Calcutta hall on Monday to plan a cyber ambush on the ruling Trinamul ahead of the 2016 Assembly elections.

The group of social media warriors, engaged in fields as diverse as infotech and biotech by day, call themselves the “Narendra Modi Sena West Bengal” and aim to “contribute meaningfully” towards converting online “likes” and “shares” into votes and seats.

The strategy to combat the might and manpower of Trinamul isn’t much different from Modi’s online onslaught in the run-up to the general elections — troll the Net, propagate political memes and popularise catchy jingles across the online constituency.

The group is convinced that a surprise attack on Facebook, the occasional ambush on Twitter or the odd YouTube assault over issues ranging from the Tapas Paul shocker to the college admission ruckus would chip away at the ruling party’s mass base.

“Didi might have huge manpower on the ground but we have many tricks up our sleeves to outshine her in the cyber domain,” said a member.

The 20-odd administrators of the Narendra Modi Sena, which has over 17,000 members across the state, had hired the hall in Jodhpur Park and invited Tathagata Roy, who had contested the Calcutta South seat on a BJP ticket, to teach them a thing or two about political campaigning.

Founder members of the Facebook community clarified that although they were supporters of Modi, the online organisation wasn’t an official wing of the state BJP. “We are all working professionals from diverse backgrounds. None of us is a full-time BJP worker. We aim to stay outside the BJP and help create awareness and promote the party’s principles as civil society members,” said Pabitra Dey, a retail executive based in Dubai.

Rajarshi Lahiri, an analyst with an MNC, suggested building a team dedicated to managing online content and analysing the response. Sabyasachi Bhattacharjee, a 20-year-old from Bankura, volunteered to combat the online forums of Trinamul with his trolling prowess.

Trolling is an Internet phenomenon used to describe any Internet user behaviour that is meant to intentionally anger or frustrate someone with comments on a public forum and sabotage the discussion thread. “I had successfully managed to shut down the Trinamul Yuva page on Facebook by blocking the page administrator from viewing his comments and then bombarding the community with comments critical of the party,” Sabyasachi claimed.

“Excellent! Jodi jhogda lagano jaye to khoobi bhalo (If we can create a rift among Trinamul supporters, nothing like it),” remarked Tathagata Roy, a former professor of engineering at Jadavpur University.

Jiten Chatterjee, who runs an advertising and public relations firm, was asked if he could come up with a jingle or a slogan that could capture the imagination of people online the way “Ab ki baar…” and “Achhe din aane wale hain” did. “We can definitely try something similar in Bengal,” he replied.