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Virtual campaign, the latest poll mantra

November 16, 2008 16:21 IST

From a group on Facebook seeking votes for BJP's chief ministerial candidate V K Malhotra, to dedicated websites detailing information about candidates, technology seems to be the mantra for political parties in the fray for the upcoming Delhi assembly polls.

Short Messaging Service, dedicated websites, groups on social networking sites and short films are some of the media being used by the parties and candidates in the run up to the November 29 polls as they adapt US President-elect Obama's campaign style.

"SMS has now become one of the cheapest media of campaigning as we can reach out to the people directly with almost every household having a mobile phone now," an aide of Finance Minister A K Walia, who is seeking mandate for the fourth time from the Lakshmi Nagar seat, said.

BSP's Rajiv Singh, pitted against Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit from New Delhi segment, has launched a website providing news and information about himself and his campaign details.

On the other hand, Malhotra's supporters will invite people to vote for him through a group on social networking site Facebook.

The group, called 'VK Malhotra for Delhi CM', already has 172 registered members.

Dikshit, however, does not feel the need to campaign through the Internet and says she is not "that tech savvy".

"I believe in one-to-one, person-to-person campaigning," she said.

With the Election Commission imposing strict restrictions, jumbo-size hoardings, posters, flags and many such traditional tools are virtually fading out from the electoral battlefield.

Meanwhile, satellite TV, a sure shot way of reaching the drawing rooms of millions of people, is another medium being milked by candidates, who are airing advertisements and short films to woo voters.

While Congress candidates in east Delhi have roped in local cable TV channels to air short films listing the government's achievements of the past ten years, BJP nominees have employed the services of advertising agencies to 'expose' the grand old-party's 'misrule'.

Congress, which is using all available media of campaigning, however, believes that campaigning by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and other national leaders will fetch votes for the party.

"We will be using SMS and digital technology among other things. But in reaching out to the people directly, the CM will be the star campaigner," a Congress lawmaker said.

The emergence of technology has resulted in heavy losses to the printing sector.

"Earlier, out of the total budget of campaign, 70 per cent was spent on the print medium. The figure has come down to 40 per cent this time with the rest being spent on other media," said Dinesh Gupta, chairman of Prabhatam Advertising, the firm handling the campaigning of the BJP for many years.

The agency has shot ad films with durations from 30 seconds to one minute to promote the BJP, which will be aired on local and national TV channels.

But, Sanjay Gaur, BSP candidate from Gandhi Nagar constituency in east Delhi, feels reaching out to people directly is the best way to garner votes.

"Door-to-door visit is the best way to communicate with the people. Other media are for those who are afraid to face the public because of their bad performances," he said.

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