The ongoing pandemic situation has thrown political parties in Uttar Pradesh into chartered territory with virtual campaigning.
Even though the Election Commission has assured that it would review the pandemic situation later this week, the increasing Covid cases indicate that the situation is unlikely to ease soon.
When it comes to virtual campaigning, most parties – though they may not admit it — are, undoubtedly, wary of this new form of electioneering.
The BJP has a definite edge in the situation. The party has been focussing on social media since the past few years and almost all their leaders are tech-savvy when it comes to ensuring their presence on the social media.
The BJP plans to use a 3D technology for ‘virtual rallies’. The BJP plans to use 3D Studio Mix technology through which leaders sitting at two different places can be shown on a podium.
The party already has more than 1.5 lakh booth level WhatsApp groups in the state, which will be used to hold these virtual rallies.
The party has already set up war rooms for campaigns at the local level and its teams are connecting with voters through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, among others.
Talking to IANS, a senior party functionary said: “We started preparing when the pandemic began because we knew that physical campaigning would be severely hit and virtual campaigning would be the only option. We have our blueprint in place and also the election material.”
The Samajwadi Party is also planning virtual rallies to reach out to voters.
However, for the moment, the party is relying on social media.
Its social media war room has been working since the last assembly elections but the problem that the party faces is that its vote base is largely in the rural interiors and a sizeable number of voters may not be on the social media.
The party is inviting people to join its WhatsApp groups and its workers have been asked to go to the rural interiors and connect with voters.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has also decided to connect with people digitally.
Priyanka launched her virtual campaign from Saturday, almost at the same time when the Election Commission announced the poll schedule.
“We will be conducting more live and interactive sessions so that Priyanka can directly talk to people,” said Congress spokesperson Surendra Rajput.
He said that the Congress party was first to decide about stopping the public rallies and conduct small meetings and door-to-door campaigns.
The party will further expand the virtual campaign through dialogue series on social media platforms and WhatsApp group communication.
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is comparatively lagging in the virtual campaign and the party apparently does not have a dedicated team to take care of the social media.
BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra is currently using Facebook to hold live rallies but sources claim that there is no plan yet to connect on other platforms in the virtual world.
“We will show videos using vans and trucks with LED screens across the state, especially in rural areas. The work done by the BSP governments will be displayed through these vehicles,” said a BSP leader.
The problem with the BSP is that a chunk of its core voter is not tech savvy and almost unaware of the virtual world and the party is yet to find ways to connect with this group.
Smaller parties like the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) are not depending on virtual campaigning.
“My society does not wait for the elections to come and is already prepared,” said SBSP president Om Prakash Rajbhar.