New Delhi: The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) national president, Jayant Chaudhary, is hoping to visit five lakh voters and even allow them to take selfies with him — all through a smartphone and a simple augmented reality app.
Augmented reality (AR) is technology that superimposes computer-generated images and sounds onto the reality around us.
Chaudhary’s party wants voters to visit the link, provide suggestions and feedback, of the most common issues that should be addressed in RLD’s election manifesto for 2022.
“We represent farmers but I feel now it’s important to use modern technology to connect grassroots and strengthen the farmer’s voice,” Chaudhary told ThePrint.
His coordinator Deepak Rathi told ThePrint that the RLD is sending the augmented reality app link to voters in the state through social media, WhatsApp and bulk SMS.
The aim of the app is to reach five lakh voters in the state, especially in western UP, the RLD’s home turf, ahead of the 2022 elections. By 20 October, around 1 lakh voters in UP had visited the augmented reality app, according to Rathi.
Prashant Kanojia, chief of the RLD’s SC/ST Cell, told ThePrint that the app is designed for younger voters in the state.
“I’ve seen how our young voters are using this app and giving suggestions. It will impact the young and first-time voters, who feel that there should be some sort of technology, where they could communicate with our leader without the feeling of being far away,” Kanojia said.
Some, though, feel this initiative is like a “gimmick”.
“It is an interesting initiative, but there’s nothing new or significant about it. If I am not mistaken, in around 2017 the BJP’s Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh’s book had a similar initiative where scanning a QR code found on the back cover led to a similar video of Dr Raman talking about development work done by his government in the state,” election strategist Tushar Panchal said.
“Initiatives like these serve as an interesting gimmick for the media to write about; it doesn’t change voter minds in the least.”
How to use the app
The RLD technology is not a typical mobile application you have to download on your phone. To use the app, the web link app.loksankalp2022.com must be accessed on a smartphone.
The platform first requires access to use your camera and sound system, which you must allow for the augmented reality feature to work.
The first time the app link is accessed a message is shown that the internet “connection is secure” and that “your information (for example, passwords or credit card numbers) is private when it is sent to this site”.
Once camera and sound access is given, a logo appears at the bottom of the screen asking to touch it. Once the logo is clicked, RLD chief Chaudhary appears and asks voters in Hindi to share their feedback on governance issues.
Next a menu of five topics appear where a voter can click on which topic they feel is most important to them. The five include farmer and labour-related issues, health and education, jobs, and law and order.
Once a topic is clicked, a message appears thanking the user for their suggestion along with a camera icon. When the camera icon is clicked, the phone’s camera is activated so that you or anyone can stand in front of the camera and take a realistic looking picture alongside the computer generated image of RLD chief Chaudhary.
The same message containing the camera icon also asks users to visit RLD’s social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, or WhatsApp, which have been set up especially for the 2022 elections.
RLD and other tech
RLD has been adopting technology for its daily work because it saves time.
Rathi told ThePrint that in the last three months, the RLD started using an app for data collection. Booth workers instead of noting down voter information on paper can now directly add details into the app, saving the time of manual data entry.
The app also helps the party keep track of workers and where they are, allowing RLD to reward those who are working the hardest.
In August, the RLD had launched an augmented reality app for party supporters to pay their respects and take a picture with a computer-generated image of RLD founder, the late Chaudhary Ajit Singh, who passed away in May.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)