The Telegraph
Monday , April 7 , 2014
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Subhashini connects with FB ‘friends’

Subhashini Ali at Naihati on Sunday. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

Calcutta, April 6: CPM candidate for Barrackpore Subhashini Ali today interacted with about a hundred “Facebook friends” in Naihati this afternoon, making a departure from the party’s time-tested formula of songs and street theatre to woo young voters.

The former CPM MP from Kanpur today said she started connecting with voters on Facebook only after coming to Barrackpore, from where she is contesting against Trinamul’s Dinesh Trivedi.

“I was looking for a way to reach out to young voters. In the past one month, many in my constituency have become my friends on Facebook. It’s an excellent way to connect with them,” Subhashini said after coming out of the Naihati auditorium where she met several of her Facebook friends.

The CPM candidate added that a “face-to-face discussion” with voters on Facebook gave an idea of their “priorities and what they are thinking about”.

The CPM — often referred to as Jurassic Park by critics — has started taking baby steps towards opening up to new ideas. The party last month opened a page on Facebook and an account on Twitter, years after Trinamul did so.

Hours before Subhashini made the connect between the digital and the real worlds today, Trinamul, which has stolen a march over the CPM on matters virtual, launched a mobile app for smartphone and tablet users.

“We are looking at 360-degree communication, merging the traditional means with those backed by latest technology. We have started this with an eye on the future when digital campaigns would be the thing,” said Derek ’Brien, Trinamul chief whip in the Rajya Sabha.

The mobile App — All India Trinamool Congress — would provide the latest news and videos of Trinamul and its chief campaigner Mamata Banerjee.

From Monday, a daily blog on Mamata’s development model would be uploaded and a link provided on the party website. Two IIM interns with the party — Samprati Motghare and Tanmay Mandal — have written around 40 blogs with “facts and figures” arguing in favour of Mamata for Delhi.

“Among the regional parties only AIADMK has a mobile App,” said O’Brien. In the Lok Sabha polls this year, around 20 lakh people would be voting for the first time in Bengal. Of the 42 constituencies, Calcutta North and South, Howrah, Balurghat, Burdwan East, Burdwan-Durgapur, Asansol and Purulia are some seats, sources said, where the social networking sites would play a crucial role in the electoral process.

Among regulars on the social network, the BJP’s Narendra Modi gives updates on Twitter. Shashi Tharoor, the junior HRD minister, is a regular on Twitter and has joined Instagram.

Barrackpore votes on May 12