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BJP goes digital to spread NaMo chant

February 26, 2014 08:49 IST

BJP goes digital to spread NaMo chant

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Mayank Mishra and Sahil Makkar in New Delhi

Chai pe charcha (Discussion over tea) is not the only people-centric campaign the Bharatiya Janata Party has launched ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Its digital campaign is aimed at creating a million volunteers in 160 seats where the outcome is perceived to bear the influence of social media.

These people are to disseminate prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s message through mobile phones, Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

They are also expected to do door-to-door campaigning or at least register for events such as bike rallies.

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Image: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Photographs: Reuters

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Explaining the math behind creation of a huge online force, a senior party functionary said they’d appointed at least four parliamentary coordinators and 40 assembly coordinators for each of these identified seats.

Each of them have been tasked with enrolling 5,000 volunteers each.

The aim is to have the force ready by the end of this month.

Says Arvind Gupta, the party’s information technology cell convenor: “The digital campaign is a people’s campaign. What is heartening is the growing enthusiasm of people joining us as volunteers in large number.”

The IT cell has created 160 groups on WhatApp, the popular messaging services site, where coordinators and volunteers stay in touch, as well as with the party headquarters.

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Image: Narendra Modi.
Photographs: Reuters

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These coordinators have been tutored to answer queries.

Last Saturday, as part of the training, around 2,000 volunteers got lessons directly from Modi, who held a conference call from Ahmadabad.

These volunteers are to do the dual job of generating mass support and generating online donations.

So far, the response has been good, claim party leaders.

While the system of online donation is in place since July 2010, the party has started accepting it for the Lok Sabha election since January 14. Leaders claim nearly 10,000 people donated through various digital platforms.

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Image: Narendra Modi.
Photographs: Reuters

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The largest contributors, around 5,000, have been those who buy the BJP’s caller tunes on their mobile phones.

They are charged Rs 10, of which half is paid to the BJP.

 “Once they make payments, their mobile and others details are collected.

“These people are then sent the party’s manifesto and other campaign material such as songs and videos.

“We hope these people to further propagate the message to their peers,” said a functionary, who refused to be named.

While the party refused to share details of the amount received so far, leaders said it was substantially higher than what the Aam Aadmi Party has got.

Business Standard could not confirm the numbers.

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Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters

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In number of donations received (not necessarily the amount), the top five states are, it appears, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.

These five states have almost 40 per cent of the 815 million voters, beside 223 Lok Sabha seats.

The party has also got substantial donation from non-resident Indians.

Each donor is given an online receipt.

Foreign donors are also requested for scanned copies of their passports.

The details are matched with credit card details and in case of any discrepancy, the donation is rejected, says the party; it says it rejects five per cent of transactions.


Image: Narendra Modi.
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters

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