The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which was the only national party that had till now shied away from social media claiming that it was a party that believed in working on the ground, has now woken up to the benefits of Twitter and Facebook.
Last week, BSP leaders took to Twitter in a big way during the 11 September rally of party chief Mayawati in Saharanpur. They were successfully able to trend #MayawatinextUPCM and #chaloSaharanpur for hours. The party has now started focusing on increasing its footprints on social media and is in the process of appointing a special team that will focus on social media.
“Initially, Behenji (Mayawati) was averse to focusing our time and energy on social media, but now she has opened up to the idea and after her mega rally was held at Saharanpur, she was very happy when we told her that people were talking about it so much on Facebook and Twitter. Our party workers are new to Twitter and hence we faced some problems. Many of the intended tweets and pictures of the rally were not uploaded or else we would have done even better,” a party functionary, requesting anonymity, said.
Keeping the Uttar Pradesh elections in mind, the party has made some new Twitter handles, including @BSPUP2017, whose aim, as given in the bio, reads thus: “The only wish is to see Bahen Mayawati Ji as next UP CM in 2017 n aim is to achieve our dream. Let’s come together n join hands and make this a reality in Poll.”
The official handle of the party, @BSP4India, has not tweeted anything post February 2014, but it was the newly created @BSPUP2017 that contributed in trending the hashtag #MayawatinextUPCM. This handle is managed by a special team that tweets and retweets news and views related to UP elections. The handle follows more than 50 journalists on Twitter and according to party insiders, the BSP will now also increase its interaction with journalists, both offline and online.
“We have among the worst presence on social media, which has come as an impediment when we have tried to take the fight to the opposition, which is an expert in using the media to malign us. Apart from social media, we are also going to increase our interaction with journalists, especially in Uttar Pradesh and New Delhi. In these times, politics is all about perception,” the party functionary said.
According to party leaders, the top leadership of the party, albeit a bit late, has realised that the penetration of internet and smartphones can be used to reach out to the voters. “Earlier, very few from our core vote bank had phones and the presence of smartphones was almost negligible, but that has changed in the past 2-3 years and now everyone is present on Facebook, if not Twitter, and this has been the factor behind our surge towards social media,” a Lucknow-based party functionary said.