Vikash Sharma

Apart from fighting at the booth-level, the political parties these days are giving enormous stress on the use of social media platforms to reach out to the masses as well as countering the propaganda and other misinformation spread by their rivals.

The 2024 elections are also not going to be different. It is anticipated that the ‘social media war’ between major political parties will certainly heat up in Odisha.

The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has already started to develop strategy to counter the ‘Cyber Army’ of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state.

BJD’s social media army and the BJP’s cyber army are going to be at loggerheads this time.

BJD will be trying to harp on social media to woo the young voters and counter misinformation on various platforms. The party has started a training programme of its observers and MLAs on the use of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram.

Sources said that BJD has already asked its leaders, who do not have any representation on the social media, to open accounts.

At the training programme held at CM’s grievance cell, the BJD leaders have been asked to remain active on social media and increase followers as well. The leaders have also been asked to post about welfare schemes and success stories of the state government as well as their own works on their respective accounts.

“Social media has become an inseparable tool to connect with the people and the training programme was attended by MLAs and others,” said BJD MLA, Amar Satpathy.

BJP, on the other hand, said that it is only an attempt by the ruling BJD to save its own image. It is BJD which is spreading misinformation on social media, alleged the BJP.

The party claimed that it is also working as per a special plan for social media.

“BJD and its supporters are running a shadow social media campaign and spreading misinformation in a bid to save their own image,” said Odisha BJP general secretary, Prithviraj Harichandan.

Meanwhile, the Congress is also gearing up to re-activate its social media wing to reach out to the people by highlighting the failures of the Centre and the Odisha government.

“Congress will ask questions to both the parties –BJP and BJD and our social media department and analytics wing has kept everything ready. The parties will fail to answer and the people can judge whom to vote in 2024,” said Congress leader, Abhishek Mahanand.

It may be recalled that the BJD had switched to ‘Jay Jagannath’ campaign from ‘Mo Sankha Mo Garba’ campaign on social media. The BJP too had countered the slogan of the BJD.

Time and again it has been observed that both BJP and BJD are quite active on social media and leave no stone unturned to counter each other by mocking or criticising.

“Social media is one the best platforms for the political parties to reach out to voters, especially the youth. Political parties are also spending huge money and engaging manpower for this,” said Sandip Sahu, senior journalist.

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