Technology in UP elections: Who are we kidding?Santhosh Ramdoss
With the UP elections right around the corner, the campaign trail is heating up. The assembly polls in India’s most populous state not only determines the next part in power, but had a symbolic influence on the national Lok Sabha elections in 2014.
Young people are increasingly seen as an very important demographic in these elections. It is predicted that more young people will come out and vote than ever in the history of UP polls. Thus, various political parties see the opportunity to use technology to reach young people. Congress has unveiled a series of Youtube videos, Samajwadi Party has Facebook Page and a set of Snazzy videos, and BJP has recently unveiled an iPhone/Android App.
WSJ recently covered the story:
But will parties’ efforts translate into more votes? Although census data shows that around 22% of U.P.’s population lives in urban areas – only part of which have Internet or smartphone access – political experts say online campaigning alone is not enough.
“The urban-educated voter is likely to vote based on performances of political parties than by promotional campaigns,” said Manindra Nath Thakur, a professor of political science in New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University. While Mr. Thakur noted that social media is an “excellent avenue” to connect with the youth, he argued that parties must “tactfully leverage” from the medium.
The truth is that parties have not found really meaningful ways to reach voter using technology. The Congress’s Youtube videos has double-digit views and Samajwadi Party’s Facebook page has 3,000 followers. Parties need to think more about technology that is currently in the hands of the majority of voter already – a simple cellphone if they are serious about using technology as a election tool.