Kannada actor and former MP Ramya has been selected to lead the party’s social media outreach, reports Amit Agnihotri
Film actor and former Lok Sabha member from Mandya in Karnataka, Ramya will lead the Congress’s social media charge to counter an aggressive Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of polls in the southern state.
Going ahead with his plans to revamp the grand old party, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, 46, has decided to appoint Ramya, 34, as head of national social media department.
Ramya, who has acted in several Kannada films before she became a lawmaker in 2013, will replace Lok Sabha member Deepender Hooda, who had been doing the job for the past few years. Deepender, a second-term lawmaker from Rohtak, is the son of former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and has been working closely with Rahul Gandhi.
Though Ramya has not been part of either the national or the state social media team, she was chosen for the job after it was found that she was active on Twitter and often took on the BJP over various issues.
For instance, on April 24 she attacked Home Minister Rajnath Singh after the Sukma Naxal attack in which 25 Central Reserve Police Force jawans were killed. “Does the home ministry have a job or not? Intel failure. No one is safe with this govt. Not the army not the civilians nor our Aadhar details,” she had tweeted.
She had also taken on PM Modi over his tweets in Kannada saying he talked of protecting diversity but pushed Hindi on the sly.
After the 2014 Lok Sabha poll loss, Congress strategists realised that the party could not attract the crucial first-time voters, who sided with Modi.
Though the party’s social media outreach has expanded since then, a review of the recent assembly polls in five states, showed the Congress was not getting the desired impact. In contrast, the BJP’s social media campaigns, whether during the 2014 national polls or subsequently, has remained very aggressive.
Rahul wants the Congress’s social media response to counter the BJP’s aggression through a polite but firm narrative as he readies a new team to take on the BJP in Karnataka, where assembly polls will be held in April 2018, and later for the Lok Sabha elections in 2019. Scaling up the effort with limited resources is going to be a challenge for her, said sources.
In August 2013, Ramya was fielded in the Mandya bypoll following the resignation of N Cheluvarayaswamy who had become an MLA in May when the Congress swept to power.
She defeated Janata Dal-Secular candidate CS Puttaraju who was backed by the BJP. The bypoll had become a prestigious contest for the Congress in the Mandya area considered to the heartland of powerful Vokkaliga community.
Delivering her maiden speech on the last day of the 15th Lok Sabha, the house applauded Ramya, who highlighted the usefulness of the green fuel like ethanol, a byproduct of sugarcane.