New Delhi: Plug Yogi Adityanath and Modi government schemes, and counter Opposition allegations with aggression — this was the crux of BJP general secretary (organisation) B.L. Santhosh’s message as he arrived in western Uttar Pradesh Thursday for an interaction with volunteers of the party’s social media and IT cell.
This was Santhosh’s second session with BJP social media and IT cell teams in western UP — the epicenter of farmer protests in the poll-bound state — within a week.
The BJP is looking at the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly election, slated for early next year, as a semi-final for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The party won the 2017 elections with a landslide. However, as things stand, it faces some resentment on the ground on account of issues such as the three farm laws brought by the Modi government (currently stayed by the Supreme Court), the toll of the second Covid wave earlier this year, and unemployment.
It was with a message to counter this disenchantment that Santhosh met the social media teams in western UP.
The BJP is organising conferences with IT cell volunteers in all of Uttar Pradesh’s 18 divisions (an administrative unit comprising a few districts), to ready them for election work. Several such conferences have already been held in Meerut, Kanpur, Jhansi, Agra, and Bareilly, among other places.
A state-level conference in Lucknow in August was addressed by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath along with UP BJP General Secretary (Organisation) Sunil Bansal and national IT cell chief Amit Malviya.
State-level leaders provided guidance in the subsequent conferences.
“Right now, our preparations are focused on capacity-building and the workers are being trained and prepared for the challenges ahead,” said Ankit Chandel, social media in-charge of UP BJP. “Once this training is over, they will be ready to join the electoral battleground. Our main challenge is to respond to the propaganda being spread by the Opposition in a timely manner and to convey our achievements to the public.”
A BJP UP general secretary, who didn’t wish to be named, said the status of safety and security in the state is much better than before. “But people will have to be repeatedly reminded about it. The poor got free foodgrains during the corona epidemic. People’s memory about this also needs to be refreshed. Wherever there is a little bit of resentment, it will be resolved by a targeted campaign focused on the government’s policies and through PM Modi’s speeches.
“Creating goodwill is our main aim. It is not like a T-20 and requires continuous effort. A good campaign sticks in the memory of people for a long time. It helps in increasing the number of votes.”
On the agenda
At the meetings, it is learnt, the BJP’s social media workers have been “enlightened” about creating short videos of interactions with beneficiaries of welfare schemes and making them viral. This initiative, BJP sources said, is inspired by PM Modi’s “constant and direct communication with beneficiaries of central schemes”.
For this, the workers were told to prepare a list of welfare beneficiaries in every assembly segment and collect their contact numbers. The workers have also been told to continuously retweet PM Modi’s as well as CM Yogi’s speeches.
A BJP source quoted Santhosh as having said at the Meerut convention that there should be a group of youths at every booth to “keep an eye on the allegations being levelled by the Opposition, present the right information about the government’s schemes with graphics, avoid negative campaigns as far as possible, and showcase their good qualities”.
According to a second source present at the meeting, Santhosh, “taking cue” from the fact that the younger generation knows how to better handle technology and spends a large portion of their time on social media, emphasised on enlisting more youths to handle individual assembly segments and districts.
To meet this objective, Santhosh called for camps at various educational institutes.
“We will organise camps in various colleges and identify youths who want to connect with our party’s ideology. Some of the most social media savvy persons from among these youths will be groomed as volunteers for our IT cell, so that the party’s electoral campaign can be further sharpened. It has already been started and this programme is running successfully in several districts,” the source added.
The head of a BJP IT cell, who was present at the Kanpur workshop, said Santhosh has called for a prompt response to allegations levelled by the Opposition, warning them that “someone else will win the plot otherwise”.
“But this response should not only be rhetorical. Instead it should be based on facts. In order to make them (people) understand the difference between the work done by our government, present the comparative graphics related to work done by the old governments and that of the Yogi government on social media, so that the common public could understand the real difference,” the IT cell chief quoted Santhosh as having said.
However, Santhosh, the official added, “made another important point: we should not get entangled in the tricks being played by the Opposition, and instead focus on the positive campaign”.
“For this, it is absolutely necessary that we inform the public about what our government has done for them in the last five years,” the IT cell member added.
Talking about the video initiative, the IT cell chief added, “If you just keep presenting the data (figures), it will not be effective. However when the beneficiaries narrate it themselves, then it will create a greater impact.”
(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)