Lucknow: The Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) has decided to aggressively take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on several issues concerning Uttar Pradesh — both online and offline.
In addition to its familiar strategy of aggressively hitting the streets to protest against the government, the SP is now also seeking to bolster its online campaigns to counter the BJP.
On Monday, even as a large number of SP workers protested on streets in all districts across UP to raise the issue of unemployment, the party trended a hashtag, #NoMoreBJP, on microblogging site Twitter as part of its online campaign.
The SP is looking to make such online campaigns a regular feature of its politics as it wants to be seen fighting the BJP governments in the state and at the Centre on social media as well as on the streets.
Sources close to SP said a digital force of volunteers is being mobilised to counter the IT cell of the BJP.
The BJP IT cell is known to go after opposition leaders routinely. Last week, BJP’s own Subramanian Swamy accused the cell of running a campaign against him using fake tweets.
Most of the SP volunteers are common students who are being informed about the hashtag and campaigns through their WhatsApp group to make it viral.
SP National president Akhilesh Yadav is personally monitoring this strategy daily, said the sources. He is taking feedback on this via video conferences and by holding meetings at party office. All kinds of plans are being prepared to strengthen the party — from streets to social media, the sources added.
Akhilesh is not being seen participating in the street protests, but he tweeted the ‘#NoMoreBJP’ hashtag on Twitter.
What the party says on strategy
According to senior Samajwadi Party leader and spokesperson Juhie Singh, “#NoMoreBjp hashtag is our own social media campaign. We will use it for vigorously raising six most important issues of UP. These six issues include distraught farmers, expensive education, rising unemployment, corruption in privatization, attack on reservation, ban on free enrollment of Dalit students for B.Ed. entrance exams in UP.”
— Juhie Singh (@juhiesingh) September 14, 2020
She added, “We will carry out demonstrations against the BJP government on different days and will also organise various hashtags campaigns like #NoMoreBJP on social media. Apart from this, preparations are also going on to organize an ‘Unemployed Week’ which will have hashtags related to the issue of unemployment.”
According to Singh, her party carried out several protests and demonstrations to expose the negligence of the government as well as the administration since the Covid-19 outbreak.
However, it has also become necessary now to be seen protesting in the digital world. “That is why we are emphasising so much on trending it through the hashtags,” she told ThePrint.
Sources associated with the SP also said party workers are planning to trend Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday on 17 September as National Unemployment Day. However, Singh said nothing like this has been officially decided as of yet.
On 9 September, the SP had extended its support to a campaign titled ‘9 minutes at 9 o’clock’, which had been organised by students appearing for competitive examinations and seeking employment. It entailed a task of clapping and banging plates for nine minutes — a clear reference to PM Modi’s call for a similar task just before the lockdown to show appreciation for frontline workers.
Digvijay Singh Dev, state president of the SP’s student wing, said it is important in today’s era to confront the government on social media while protesting against it on the streets too.
“Thousands of volunteers associated with the SP’s student wing are currently active on social media. We are actively demonstrating on the issue of unemployment in every district and along with it we are also posting photos and videos on social media in order to make them trending with the help of hashtags,” Dev told ThePrint.
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