Trinamul set for social media army to take on BJP

The Trinamul Congress has decided to raise an army of 30,000 "cyber sainiks" in Bengal - at least 100 dedicated social media experts in each of the state's 294 Assembly constituencies - to counter the threat of the saffron camp's social media machinery ahead of the Lok Sabha polls next year.

By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 11.09.18
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Abhishek speaks at Trinamul's digital media conclave in Calcutta on Monday. Picture courtesy: Official Twitter handle of Trinamul

Calcutta: The Trinamul Congress has decided to raise an army of 30,000 "cyber sainiks" in Bengal - at least 100 dedicated social media experts in each of the state's 294 Assembly constituencies - to counter the threat of the saffron camp's social media machinery ahead of the Lok Sabha polls next year.

At a digital media conclave of the party on Monday, Trinamul youth wing chief Abhishek Banerjee said the social media team would have the potential to sway an additional 12 per cent votes in favour of the party, which would help it live up to Mamata Banerjee's expectations of winning all 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

"Our party already has the support of around three crore voters out of 6.55 crore. This team can sway another one crore votes, or 12 per cent of the vote share. Which will help strengthen the party in winning all 42 seats," said Abhishek at the conclave in Nazrul Manch, organised by the social media cell of the party.

Sources said the party had set an initial target of creating at least 10,000 WhatsApp groups, with 250-odd members in each, to combat the social media machinery of the BJP-RSS parivar and spread awareness against the allegedly anti-people policies of the Centre and in favour of the development agenda of the state government.

The sources said the party is looking at making optimal use of platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Pinterest, besides emails and bulk-SMS.

"We don't depend on the media. We are going to depend on you. If each of you can convince even eight people every month - who will then convince their family members - this target of 12 per cent hike in vote share will be achieved," said Diamond Harbour MP Abhishek, who promised that the next edition of the conclave would be held soon at the Netaji Indoor Stadium, on a much larger scale.

Mamata's nephew Abhishek was the keynote speaker at the conclave. Other leaders who addressed the conclave included Trinamul all-India general-secretary Subrata Bakshi, Barasat MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar and Diptansu Chowdhury, joint convenor of the social media cell for the party.

While the saffron camp has been successfully utilising the social media to further its agenda for years outside Bengal, it is yet to see considerable success in the state. Looking to improve its show, the state unit of the BJP is looking at setting up a core team of around 100 professionals, who will work in a "corporate-like" work environment in a new office space for the revamped social media and IT cell, said sources. They said the party is looking to set up separate offices for the cell even in the districts.

Besides BJP national president Amit Shah, who in his meetings with the state unit has repeatedly underscored the importance of better utilisation of social media in Bengal, Amit Malviya, the national in-charge of the party's IT and social media management cell, has been holding meetings to work towards more proactive social media handling at the state level.

At Trinamul's conclave, Mamata too addressed the gathering in a telephonic message, urging the cyber sainiks to go all out in countering the "fake and malicious" propaganda of the saffron camp with facts and accurate data. She said she aspires for her party's digital media to be the best in the country and reputed internationally, urging the participants to start with encouraging their parents to use social media.

The chief minister also urged the participants to keep the social media cell top brass and the police administration in the loop and aid cops with any information they get on the allegedly malicious activities of the RSS in the districts.

"The RSS has been sending people to the districts in the name of campaign. People are coming from Jharkhand, Assam and Odisha. Money too is flowing in," she said.