The party has plans to expose 10 years of ‘misrule’ of the former Chief Minister.
With Congress veteran Digvijaya Singh becoming active and leading the party’s charge in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has decided to make his predecessor his main opponent and “use” him to tell the people of the state as to why not to vote for Congress.
Apart from focusing on the 15 years of “good governance” of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state, Chouhan has asked the information technology (IT) cell of party’s state unit to also target the 10 years of “misrule” under Digvijaya Singh that preceded the BJP coming to power in 2003, when the cell starts its online campaign for the Assembly elections slated for coming November.
Chouhan, who is among the quickest to tweet among the BJP leaders—be it a moment of celebration or a tragic incident—has issued this instruction to the BJP “Cyber Yoddhas” (cyber warriors) who have become active in the almost 65,000 polling booths of the state.
Last week, while addressing a meet of the state BJP IT cell, Chouhan told these warriors that people need to be reminded of the 10 years of Congress “misrule” under Digvijaya Singh’s regime as the voters’ memory is generally short.
Political observers said that this state election was likely to be the first one in the state where the impact of social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter will play an important role in shaping the opinion of the voters.
As per a TRAI report released in May 2018, out of nearly 10 crore combined population of Madhya Pradesh (7.33 crore) and Chhattisgarh (2.55 crore), nearly 2.4 crore were accessing internet by the end of December 2017. The total number of voters in Madhya Pradesh is 5.08 crore and in Chhattisgarh 1.81 crore.
The state BJP is also using the expertise of personnel associated with “Association of Billion Mind”, a party-allied political consultancy and think-tank, which has moved to Bhopal to shape the campaigning for Chouhan who according to observers is facing strong anti-incumbency that comes with 15 years of rule.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, state BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agarwal said the party was taking the impact of social media on the elections very seriously. “The cyber warriors, consisting of our party workers, will focus on conveying the work done by the BJP and debunking the false claims of Congress. We plan to have at least three warriors in every booth, who will counter the false narrative of Congress through facts and figures. These cyber warriors will be working in tandem with the IT cell,” he added.
Not to be left behind, the Congress has created its own team of cyber workers, “Rajiv ke Sipahi” (Soldiers of Rajiv) named after former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who will be focusing on bringing out Chouhan’s “misrule”.
Congress spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi said, “Instead of talking about their own rule of 15 years, they are focusing on our government that last came to power in 1998. What does this show? It means BJP doesn’t have anything positive to fall back on. They have nothing to market regarding what they achieved in these 15 years and hence, they are reminding people of our rule.”
Describing Rajiv Gandhi as the father of the IT revolution in the country, he further said, “These ‘sipahis’ will be responsible for every 50 voters whose names appear on one page of the voting list and they will be responsible for making the voters aware of what is the reality of Madhya Pradesh under Chouhan, unlike what BJP claims in the media and on social media.”
According to him, they have been asked to keep the discourse civilised and not to spread anything that is derogatory or insulting to anybody.