New Delhi: The BJP is looking to further strengthen its online presence in Uttar Pradesh ahead of panchayat elections due in April and the assembly elections scheduled for 2022.
BJP national president J.P. Nadda underlined the party’s strategy during his two-day visit to Varanasi that ended Monday. He met the party’s IT cell members in the city.
Sources present at the meeting said he directed them to ensure that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speeches go viral on social media. He also urged them to regularly retweet the PM’s posts on Twitter.
Nadda, the sources said, also told the IT cell workers that they should not immediately respond to opposition charges on social media with mere words, but take time and counter with facts and graphics that have the potential to go viral and create a lasting impression.
The BJP president is touring the country to strengthen the organisation with the Lok Sabha polls of 2024 in mind. In UP, he took stock of the party’s preparedness for the panchayat polls. It will be the first time that the BJP will fight the local body polls on its own symbol and the elections are being seen as a semifinal to the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls.
Reach people’s WhasApp groups, Nadda tells BJP workers
Sources present at Nadda’s meeting in Varanasi said the BJP chief asked the district IT cell heads in UP to expand their footprint on WhatsApp, Facebook and Telegram at every booth level.
One such IT cell head told ThePrint that Nadda told them to not only concentrate on sharing government schemes but also focus on the PM’s social media posts to ensure they go viral.
“He told us that whenever the opposition attacks, we should respond with full facts and graphics,” the IT cell head said. “He also said since the prime minister is our biggest brand, his reach should be enhanced at every booth. Many people don’t read newspapers in villages but they see WhatsApp messages. Nadda wanted us to send highlights of every speech the PM makes to the villages through WhatsApp.”
Another district IT cell head told ThePrint that Nadda said messaging was crucial. “He told us to focus on sharing national issues on WhatsApp groups,” the BJP leader said. “He mentioned the prime minister’s successful leadership role in containing Covid and now Covid vaccination. He also wanted us to highlight abrogation of Article 370, the Ram Mandir construction and budget highlights for circulation in people’s WhatsApp groups.”
In Varanasi district, he added, the party runs 138 Facebook pages with a reach of 20 lakh people.
“We recently got active on Telegram where we have 3 lakh followers but in new strategy, we are focusing on Instagram where the prime minister’s pictures usually get good traction,” the BJP leader said. “We have been told to add graphics of schemes onto Instagram. Since it is a medium for the 18-30 year age group, more pictures and graphics will expand our reach.”
Future leaders through panchayat polls
The BJP is viewing the panchayat polls with seriousness and has formed 1,918 organisational divisions for the elections.
The party has deputed its UP in-charge Radha Mohan Singh to oversee preparations.
“This time, the party is officially fielding candidates in all 3,051 district panchayat wards where women and youth will be given priority,” UP BJP vice-president Vijay Pathak told ThePrint. “They will be groomed as future leaders for the assembly elections.”
The seriousness of the BJP’s preparations can be gauged from the fact that former Rajya Sabha MP Surendra Nagar and Noida MLA Pankaj Singh have been given charge of the districts.
“Since we are fighting the panchayat poll on our symbol for the first time, the party president (Nadda) has instructed us to focus on every booth,” BJP’s Varanasi district president Hansraj Vishwakarma told ThePrint. “We have been told to form a five-member committee in every village to win the panchayat polls.”