Targeting Modi: Congress' social media strategy finally on the right track

The new strategy adopted by the Congress has more focus and intelligence than its earlier versions and has the potential to become a good challenge to the BJP’s well-greased social media campaign machinery.

Sanjeev Singh December 11, 2014 08:09:55 IST
Targeting Modi: Congress' social media strategy finally on the right track

New Delhi: After many false starts, the Congress is finally making progress on its social media strategy. The new strategy adopted by the party has more focus and intelligence than its earlier versions and has the potential to become a good challenge to the BJP’s well-greased social media campaign machinery. The party is now more pointed in its attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP-led NDA government and unlike earlier, it makes sense.

Targeting Modi Congress social media strategy finally on the right track

Congress media chief Ajay Maken.

For example, the party targeted Modi for posing with Bollywood stars on the day 14 CRPF personnel were killed by Maoists in an encounter in Chhattisgarh. It sent out pictures of the prime minister with Bollywood stars Shatrughan Sinha, his daughter Sonakshi and Ajay Devgun on WhatsApp and other social media applications and put a title “Modi chills out with his Bollywood chums the day 13 CRPF jawans lost their lives”. It was followed by a tweet of Modi from August last year when he attacked the ruling UPA for the death of five Indian soldiers in the Poonch sector.

The attack on the Army camp in Uri last Friday that left 11 security men, including a Lieutenant Colonel dead, also featured on the group messages. It juxtaposed a photo of a boy paying last respects to his martyred father with that of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar being all smiles at a book release function. The tag line said “warped priorities”, it also had a Sushma Swaraj tweet from August last year on the killing of jawans in Poonch where she termed the UPA as “weak and indecisive”.

“Modi government promised a dream that we knew they can’t deliver, but people had high hopes from them,” says Jitin Prasada, former Union Minister and close confidante of Rahul Gandhi. “We are only using the same tools to expose the lies of NDA government to those people who believed in the BJP’s promises, but now they are realizing that it was only rhetoric to win votes,” he adds.

The party has also made Twitter handles for shadow ministries and they have gone about their task in all earnestness. Be it the unilateral announcement of scrapping the institution of Planning Commission by the NDA or the government’s knee jerk reaction to the Delhi rape case involving Uber cabs, the Congress has gone about their task of criticizing them in a calculated way. Former Union Ministers Anand Sharma and Jyotiraditya Scindia had circulated a detailed note on the Planning Commission to their party’s chief ministers before the meeting with PM last week.

“Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose had said at the 1938 AICC session that the first task of the government of free India, as being-the setting up of a National Planning Commission” tweeted Ajay Maken, Congress media chief.

The Congress’ shadow handle of the Home ministry has gone hammer and tong against the NDA government after the Uber cab rape case. Citing figures taken from Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s speech in Rajya Sabha, it has been critical of the Centre’s competence as there has been a 15.25 percent rise in crime against women in the national capital from last year (up to 15 November 2013).

The Congress finally seems to be waking from its slumber and stepping into the world of social media. “It’s all a game of perception, and Modi was miles ahead of his opponents during the Lok Sabha elections,” says Ishan Russell, Managing Partner, The Image People. “Congress has a long way to go in managing social media, right from identifying a good team of experts to creating various groups where such information can be webcast on a regular basis,” he adds.

While the Modi-Amit Shah duo is busy with election campaign and strategy of the BJP in election bound states, the Congress is hoping to slowly catch up with them. What is working in the Modi government’s favour so far is that it is still early days for it to be taken to task for lack of delivery on promises they made. The popular enthusiasm in its favour has not waned yet.

With nothing more to lose, the Congress is planning to play its game with patience.

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