BJP banks on virtual means to reach voters

NEW DELHI :
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) aims to hold virtual rallies using various social media platforms, instead of holding public meetings or mega rallies in the country. This comes against the backdrop of the country practising social distancing and even as political engagements are witnessing a paradigm shift.

The move is significant because senior party leaders feel that what began as an experiment by the BJP nearly eight years ago when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was chief minister of Gujarat, could lead to large-scale public meetings in the country being replaced by simultaneous such rallies in polling booths across the country with the help of online mediums.

Over the last four days, the party has held four virtual rallies aimed at different states. Of these, three were led by Union home minister Amit Shah and one by defence minister Rajnath Singh. Shah’s address to Bihar on Sunday garnered more than 300,000 views on the official YouTube channel of the party. The actual digital footprint of such a rally is estimated to be more, given that such videos are publicized over other platforms such as periscope.tv.

“We had a discussion in the party about how we should reach out to people at the time of lockdown. The BJP has prepared for this day for the past 10 years. We are just leveraging technology,” said a senior leader of BJP who is aware of the party’s strategy.

“The first time hologram technology was used to hold public meetings was during the 2012 Gujarat Assembly elections. The same technology was used in the 2014 general elections. However, we are now using social media platforms to broadcast live and reach out to people,” said the BJP leader quoted above.

BJP members plan to hold at least 75 such rallies of the party’s central leadership, including BJP president J.P. Nadda, and ministers Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh. A similar exercise would also be carried out in all states, in which state-level leaders would hold virtual meetings.

“Holding these virtual rallies is not very difficult. We just need a camera that can be connected with internet and use different social media platforms to reach out to people. With the use of one laptop and giant LED screen, similar rallies can be conducted in all the polling booths of the state,” the BJP leader said.

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