The Bengal CPM will organise a digital summit — a first of its kind for the party — where it will exchange ideas and impart technical assistance to its social-media ‘foot soldiers’ across the state in a bid to strengthen its online presence ahead of the rural and general polls.
The decision, sources said, has emerged from a “sense of urgency” to combat the alleged spread of fake news by the saffron ecosystem, as well as to counter the social media narratives of the BJP and the Trinamul Congress.
“From street rallies to online alleys, we want to strengthen our presence everywhere. Through the summit, we will also get an idea of how strong our digital team currently is,” said CPM state secretary Md Salim.
The summit will be held on February 11 at the Rabindra Tirtha auditorium in Newtown, Calcutta. Sources said there are social media or digital teams in each of the party’s 22 organisational districts in Bengal, and representatives from each district team will participate in the summit. So far, CPM digital has organised multiple workshops at the state and district levels. However, most of these events were organised inside the party offices. “This is the first time a professionally-styled event is being planned,” said a source, adding that such an event was “unprecedented” amid other state units of the party as well.
A source in the state digital team explained that as many as eight different sessions would be planned throughout the day. Each of these sessions would deal with separate aspects of social media. The sessions will be presided over by internal experts of the party’s digital media team.
“We are not inviting any external experts. Since this event will be organised under the state committee’s banner, we fear that if someone from the outside joins the event, that person will be targeted by the BJP and the Trinamul,” a member of the CPM’s digital team said.
One of the most important issues the event will focus on is how to combat the spread of misinformation, disinformation, and fake news.
“Not only the BJP, but even the Trinamul indulge in spreading lies. One of our primary targets is to equip our comrades to identify fake news and debunk them,” the source added.
In the run-up to the event, a competition has been announced. The party has called for entries in three categories from across the state. The first category is slogan writing, the second deals with drawing digital posters, and the last one is creating short videos. Each category has specific political themes. Organisational sources said the best of the lot would be rewarded during the summit.
The overture of CPM’s digital drive began a few years back following Narendra Modi’s ascent to power, reportedly driven to a large extent by the BJP’s social media presence. It found itself stronger ever since and became a serious mode of campaigning ahead of the 2021 Assembly polls, lending credence to the potency of social media in national and rural politics.
The year 2021 had even seen the beginning of veteran party leaders taking a backseat to allow their younger comrades their time in the limelight. “Apart from passing on the mantle, the idea was also to enhance the party’s appeal among the masses. In the natural course, the CPM had to focus more on modes and mediums that would be of more appeal to the younger masses such as the various social media platforms of Facebook and Twitter,” said a source.