IT wing in parties gearing up for the Lok Sabha elections

Vivanesh Parthiban

Chennai, March 8: With over 300 million users on Facebook, Twitter and other social media in India, IT wing or the social media wing in all parties play an important role in the election arena today. Social media is now like a war ground for many parties approaching the Lok Sabha elections 2019 after social media had a huge impact on the Lok Sabha election in 2014.

The three main function of an IT wing in a party are:

1. Making registration forms accessible for all the people in the region they are allocated

2. Combining the Voter ID and party ID so that they can reach the real voter base that votes for a party

3. Social media propaganda for a party and publishing all events that take place daily in the party.

“BJP is the first party to make use of the cyber space to attract a huge vote bank” says CPI (M) spokesperson Sindhan.” IT wing as a term looks more aggressive than a social media wing of a party because only some parties in Tamil Nadu recruit people for these operations”, he said. “# Go Back Modi and other tags against BJP shows all the parties have now an equal presence in cyber space”, he added.

NTK (Naam Tamilar party) social media wing head Packiarajan said,” we don’t recruit people for our social media wing rather younger party member out of interest maintain the party website. He said,” we are not paid for this work and we work in different sectors for livelihood, even some Diaspora members from different parts of the world in the party help us to maintain the websites 24*7.” He also added that” There is a competition between the IT wing of every party that who is covering a huge section of the social media”.” For every constituency we have around five persons who look after the Facebook handle of our party in the area”, he said. The constant problem which they face is spreading of fake news on behalf of the party by other unofficial twitter and Facebook handle.

Senior IT wing member Sathya in the MNM Kamal Hassan party said,” every month around 30,000 members register to our party via social media and application based registration”. He said,” we are the first to introduce a Whistle blower app in Tamil Nadu called ’Maiam whistle’ where people can give complaints about  the civic issue or the corruption issues. He added that we have an app called Maiam Connect which connect party members booth from every booth. With a pride he said,” our party leader Kamal Hassan is the person who is the most active political leader on twitter and he has huge intellectual following.

Aspire Swaminathan who worked as a IT Wing head in the AIADMK in 2016 legislature election said,” we have now software that uses artificial intelligence and data analytics that can gauge voters pulse , this moves the election fight to the virtual space but every party has to equip them with the necessary technology to compete in this race.”

Radha Krishnan, Journalist in Frontline said,” the online polls and data analytics are new tools when BJP used it in 2014 but now every party has a organized social media cell to counter other parties”. He also added that party winning votes in an online poll nowadays only shows the strength of their IT wings. He gave an example where in an online poll held by him in twitter MNM came next to DMK shows there is a huge difference between the result in real world and the virtual. This also confirms bots being used by different parties IT cell in these online polls.

One-fourth of the electorate is less than 30 years old and about 45 per cent of the electorate is less than 40 years old. The trend of these youngsters attending public meetings of political parties has totally declined. Their entire decision-making process is based on what they are seeing and listening in social media so IT wing in parties has a huge role in coming elections. The recent hacking of BJP national website shows how the parties are waging a war in cyber space ahead of election. The tragic thing is election commission doesn’t have a effective rule to monitor these social media wing of parties.

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