Assembly polls: How parties are preparing for virtual campaigns as new Covid curbs loom | 10 dots

As Covid cases rise across the country, further restrictions on public gatherings and vehicle movement seem inevitable. This could significantly reduce the physical campaign of political parties in five states, including Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab, which will go to the polls in February-March.

With this in mind, political parties have stepped up their preparations for a digital pivot. Because parties with deeper digital penetration will be able to campaign more effectively.

Here are 10 things you need to know about how the Omicron threat is forcing parties to prepare their campaign machinery behind the scenes to alter communication strategies in the worst-case scenario.

PARTIES WANT TIMELY POLLS

In meetings with the Electoral Commission, the political parties voted unanimously to hold the elections on time. Even though the chorus for a ban on physical gatherings has gained momentum as the country experiences a massive rise in Covid cases, fueled by the highly contagious variant of Omicron. Parties say elaborate plans for a virtual campaign are ready if in-person public rallies cannot take place.

Read also | Omicron, law and order: How the Election Commission plans to overcome hurdles ahead of 5-state elections

CHALLENGE BEFORE BJP

The BJP has been tested whenever Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, JP Party Chairman Nadda or other senior officials have had a political or administrative exit over the past few years. last three years. The party says it has well-oiled machinery to meet the challenge of maintaining its visibility virtually.

RELYING ON VOLUNTEERS

The party says the backbone of its virtual capability is its huge army of IT volunteers on the ground. “We have at least five volunteers for each booth. Most have laptops. Otherwise, portable devices will be used,” a senior official said. The party relies on its 14 lakh active registered volunteers.

AWARENESS PLANS

Every rally or event that Prime Minister Modi, Home Minister Shah, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and Nadda Party Chairman will attend or address can be streamed live on social media platforms from n’ any remote location. The PM and other senior leaders have their dedicated tech gear available at their home bases to address rallies virtually. When they do, the BJP leaders’ Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram handles will broadcast the events live.

Read | Omicron is just a common viral fever, but it’s important to exercise caution: UP CM Yogi Adityanath

BJP IT Unit Chief Amit Malviya said, “The matrix is ​​in place and we can flip the switch within hours to move from physical campaign to virtual campaign.” Malviya added, “We have the institutional framework in place and the workers are fully sensitized for the next step in case the EC requires it.”

THE RECENT BJP TRIALS

Citing virtual coverage of the Prime Minister’s visit to Meerut, BJP leaders say the system is well tested both in terms of execution and impact. They said the Prime Minister’s visit to Varanasi for the inauguration of Kashi Vishwanath Corridor reached millions of dollars through four key social media platforms. And the impact of this is the unprecedented visitation of 2.5 lakh to 5 lakh visitors on average per day to Kashi Temple.

CONGRESS PLANS

The Congress is following the BJP in its following on social media platforms, but the party has come up with an elaborate plan to go digital. Congressional social media manager Rohan Gupta said, “We’ve created a template for virtual rallies. This can be used for outreach events by central and state leaders.” Congress maintains a database of phone numbers and social media handles of the party base. Each field worker has already been mapped.

THE “MOCK DRILLS” OF THE PARTY

In fact, on Monday, Congress conducted a mock exercise to test the systems. A senior official who was part of the exercise said: “We have been testing the systems since the poll in Gujarat just before the start of the second wave of the pandemic. The campaign was a great success.

THE UTTARAKHAND EXPERIENCE

For example, in Uttarakhand, the Congress “3-Tigada Kam-Bigada” (Three BJP CMs Wounding the State) campaign has already gone virtual and every Congress leader and volunteer is spreading the message. One leader said: ‘The virtual campaign will help the party reach out with broader messaging from our top guns like Sonia Gandhi.’

THE SAMAJWADI FESTIVAL

The Samajwadi Party led by tech savvy Akhilesh Yadav used social media platforms effectively during his 2012 campaign. His party has a large number of WhatsApp groups at regional, district and block level used to spread messages , video links and other campaign materials.

Recently, when Akhilesh Yadav undertook his Vikas Rath Yatra, thousands of social media handles run by party volunteers went online broadcasting his speeches and interactions with the public.

AAM AADMI EVENING

Similar exercises are underway in parties like the Aam Aadmi party to be in a high state of readiness in case physical gatherings face further restrictions. The AAP is in power in Delhi and has campaigned intensively in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa and other states where elections are due this year.

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