Catchy slogans, targeted programs and innovative awareness campaigns are all the rage on social media ahead of the November 12 Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, with Congress and the BJP going all out for their online campaigns.
“Joiya mama sunda nahi (uncle Joiya does not listen)” is the latest of the social media slogans Congress is using to target Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur. Having gained popularity during the ongoing agitation to implement the Old Pension Plan (OPS), the slogan has now become Congress’s campaign tool of choice to target Thakur.
A parody page of the same name is run by the party’s social media team, featuring CM cartoons and the hashtag #VoteforOPS.
To counter this, the BJP has adopted the hashtag “Congress ke karnaame (Congress misdeeds)” on its official pages. Another punchline at the center of the BJP campaign is “Naya Riwaaz banayenge, phir Bhajpa layenge (We will bring a new tradition, the BJP will return to power)”, which illustrates the party’s confidence that the people of Himachal would oppose the tendency to vote for a new government every five years in order to bring the party back to power. The hill state has not seen an incumbent government retain power since the 1980s.
Previous election battles have seen well-known polling strategists and professional agencies such as Prashant Kishor‘s I-PAC, which helped develop a strategy Captain Amarinder Singhback as CM of Punjab in 2017, or Mindshare Analytics of Sunil Kanugolu involved in Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) campaign in 2022.
But, in Himachal, parties are largely working with local agencies and relying on a team of dedicated workers to assess the response on the ground. Agencies are offering packages tailored to constituencies and using data analytics and other tools to help reach wider audiences, a source working for a campaign said.
Speaking of strategy, Congressional Social Media Polling Officer Saral Patel said: “We are largely dependent on our internal war room and our workers for campaigns, strategies and canvassing on the networks. social. There are three to four small agencies that help us with content creation. We contact each stand with WhatsApp groups. The aim of our campaign is to shine a light on our 10 guarantees and the failures of the BJP.
A BJP leader working for the party’s social media team and IT cell said they mainly rely on Facebook and Instagram. “Each booth has a WhatsApp group on which creatives and videos are forwarded to our workers, who share them with targeted voters. A central agency hired by the party helps us with overall coordination,” he said. said, adding that there were 1,500 social media workers for the job.
Kishore Sharma, who handles CM’s media management, called Thakur “one of the most tech-savvy leaders in the country”.
He added, “The CM did not hire any public relations agency. Most media outreach is voluntary and organic. Several folk songs in local dialects have been made by people organically as a tribute, showing the level of reach it has. The CM carries multiple cell phones and tablets to increase the scope of interaction. The CM also goes through the comments to take the pulse of the public.
From a local singer singing on the “Him Care” program, which aims to provide cashless healthcare in the state, to his public interactions with background music, CM’s social media pages are a combination of frequently updated videos.
Other leaders have also focused on social media.
“Social media helps a leader reach a wider audience. On all platforms, the public can see a leader’s work and make decisions accordingly. It is an important resource,” said Saurabh Chauhan who works with Minister of Urban Development Suresh Bharadwaj.
In the Upper Himachal areas, connectivity remains an obstacle. There, social media posts are complemented by streamlined door-to-door campaigns.
“Some villages in Lahaul and Spiti have poor internet connectivity. Broadband internet is a recent phenomenon here. Facebook and Whatsapp are the main sources of interaction. The idea is to create a political atmosphere despite the challenges,” said Sonu Sharma, who works for Spiti’s candidate for Congress, Ravi Thakur.
A few innovative campaigns, conducted without the help of agencies, also caught the eye. Congress candidate Nurpur and former MPP Ajay Mahajan has launched the “Biodata do, naukri lo (Give your bio, get a job)” campaign and the “Idea 10 lakh ka (Give an idea worth 10 lakhs)” campaign. , inviting people to share business and job creation ideas for the riding.
With the slogan “Sab pe bhaari, Asha Kumari (Asha Kumari got ahead of everyone)”, Asha Kumari, a six-time MP and niece of former CM Virbadhra Singh, also launched the “Idea 10 lakh ka” campaign in her constituency. She is Dalhousie’s congressional candidate. His campaign slogan is “Dalhousie ki Asha (Dalhousie’s Asha)”.
Meanwhile, building on the legacy of his father Virbadhra, Vikramaditya Singh, the Congress candidate from Shimla (rural), goes with the punchline “Aapse kiye har waade nibhaaye hain, abki baar nayi soch ke saath aaye hain.” (We kept our promises and came back with a new approach).
The BJP’s Facebook page – with 285,000 followers – used “Himachal ki pukaar, phir Bhajpa sarkaar (Say Himachal, BJP will return to power)” as its main slogan, with the prime minister Narendra Modi as his main campaign face. The Congress, which has 311,000 followers, has adopted the slogan “Himachal ka sankalp, Congress hi ek matra vikalp (Himachal resolution, Congress is the first resolution)” and has Virbadhra’s wife, Pratibha Singh, as its campaign face.
Newcomer Aam Admi party (AAP), which is making inroads into the hill state, is building on its victories in Delhi and Punjab and has called for “badlaav (change)” and given the slogan “ek mauka Kejriwal ko (an opportunity in Kejriwal )” as he during the Punjab Assembly elections earlier this year.