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Congress gears to meet social media challenge

February 12, 2013 02:56 IST

Move fast-tracked after Rahul Gandhi’s promotion

The Congress is revamping its communication and publicity strategies as part of its election preparations, keeping in mind the importance of engaging the youth through social networks.

Although such a move was in the pipeline for some time, it has been fast-tracked since Rahul Gandhi took over as vice-president. Party activists will increasingly use Facebook, Twitter and online chat platforms to reach out in the days to come.

Of the three groups formed under the Rahul Gandhi-led election co-ordination committee-2014, only the communications and publicity sub-group has started active work. The group, headed by Digvijaya Singh, has already held five meetings and is in the process of giving a report to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and to Rahul Gandhi. The other two groups, on political alliances and the party manifesto, have not met.

Along with Singh, the communications group has former information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni and her successor, Manish Tewari, as members. The “young guns” of the party such as Deepinder Singh Hooda and Jyotiraditya Scindia are also part of this group. They intend to establish “new ways of interacting and engaging with people”.

To assist the party in its move to embrace social media, the group is consulting Sam Pitroda, who heralded the telecom revolution in the country and is currently adviser to the prime minister on public information infrastructure and innovations. Pitroda had been active at the recently-held Chintan Shivir (brainstorming camp) in Jaipur, suggesting technology be harnessed for the aam aadmi. Also on board is Sanjay Jha, co-founder of www.HamaraCongress.com.

The group has said that Twitter and Facebook as platforms have to be explored. Tewari and Soni said that in the absence of a uniform official channel on social media to convey the party’s views, confused signals were being sent out.

Tewari has often gone public on the need to aggressively “counter the negative campaign” against the government in the media. Therefore, it has been mooted that the party have an official Twitter handle, which will get inputs from a dedicated media cell, so that it can counter negative views real-time.

While Bharatiya Janata Party leaders are active on sites like Twitter, other party leaders such as Trinamool Congress’ Mamata Banerjee use Facebook pages to disseminate party views. C P Joshi is possibly the only Union minister with an active website (cpjoshi.com), which allows users to interact with the minister through Facebook, Twitter, email and audio messages.

 

Kavita Chowdhury
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