By Aditya Kalra and David Lalmalsawma
Political parties in India are relying more on social media ahead of the 2014 election as a way of increasing voter support, even though politicians in general do not expect such efforts to influence election results.
India Insight interviewed Shashi Tharoor, minister of state for human resources and one of the earliest adopters of Twitter in Indian politics. Here are edited excerpts of the interview:
Can social media be a game changer in the upcoming general election?
I think it can be a game influencer, but I wouldn’t go beyond that at this stage, because what we are discovering is that you need various ways of reaching out to the electorate, and social media happens to offer an additional way, not a substitute for any of the traditional means of campaigning.
Do you see this as a tool that can help win more votes or is it just a brand-building exercise?
Brand building should help you win more votes, otherwise what’s the point. We are certainly looking at this as one more way of attracting voters and helping change the minds of certain kinds of voters. There is an overall brand-building exercise involved in any use of social media, there is a way of using social media to refute charges or to change or correct a narrative.
(Also read: Social media not a game changer in 2014 elections)
What is the social media strategy ahead of the general election?
A number of workshops are being conducted. So yes, we are trying to educate party workers and party sympathizers who are interested in how to use social media constructively. And frankly, I think it’s already begun in many ways to show an impact.