Bharatiya Janata Party and Narendra Modi stunned the country again with its resounding victory in the 2019 general (Loksabha) elections. These successive electoral triumphs are attributed to an electoral machinery spearheaded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi BJP and RSS. For BJP, the constant focus on organization, frequent contact with members, use of technology, independent feedback mechanism to identify issues and absorbing and internalizing the issues to fashion the campaign narrative have been the contribution factors for the BJP’s electoral success.
Bharatiya Janata Party digital campaign included primarily the data collection for organizational purpose whereas the internet campaign dealt with outreach through social media. In this data-led election in India in 2019, information was collected from every possible source to not just micro-target users but also fine-tune messages praising and “mythologizing” Modi as the Great Leader who would usher in “Modi-hai-to mumkin-hai” chowkidaar for the country.
Narendra Modi was the first Indian political leader to understand the power of digital technology and he made effective use of it in the 2014 Lok Sabha election to promote his candidature as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. This election, the BJP and the various voluntary groups promoted by it, took its usage to a new level as the latest technological tools were employed in creative and innovative ways in the high-decibel campaign.
Campaign war rooms are a familiar feature of elections in countries like the US and the UK. But over the years, these have become indispensable in elections here, too. While the broad strategies are decided at the respective party headquarters, social media outreach is driven from these war rooms, which also perform the role of hubs for coordination. All the digital campaign ammunition is created here and then fired through multiple channels, including WhatsApp, Facebook or Twitter. Smart personalized content across formats such as short videos, memes and GIFs engaged voters across digital and social media platforms during the elections.
With the BJP enjoying a clear first mover advantage in the use of technology, the Congress made an attempt to play catch-up in this election. The Congress has replicated the Bharatiya Janata party’s methods, set up war rooms, hired technical professionals, ramped up its presence on social media and used data to devise strategy.
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