MLAs turning to social media to achieve ballot momentum

BENGALURU: Priyank Kharge, state IT-BT minister, is relying a lot more on social media to reach out to his constituents in Chittapur, Kalaburagi district. Chittapur is one of the more backward constituencies in the state, but the demography has changed with more and more voters hooked to smartphones and internet.
While Kharge junior targets his English-speaking electorate through his Twitter account, he connects with other voters through Facebook and WhatsApp. His Facebook posts are primarily in Kannada and posting frequently has become a matter of routine.

“What works for me in Chittapur can work anywhere in the state,” Kharge said. “The increase in mobile penetration and use of the internet has given me a great deal of traction. Our primary focus is on Facebook and WhatsApp.”

Chittapur has about 2.2 lakh voters and Kharge claims at least 70 per cent of his 40,000 followers on Facebook are from his district, and nearly 50 to 55 per cent of them are from Chittapur.

Like Kharge, Arvind Limbavali, BJP state general secretary and Mahadevpura , also frequently updates his social media accounts. He says it is part of his daily routine.

“At least 98 per cent of the information technology crowd falls under my constituency, including Whitefield,” he said. “To reach out to this crowd, it is mandatory for me to keep updating the posts.”

Limbavali reveals that his constituency is one of the largest in the state — both in terms voter population and extent. About 5 lakh voters reside in his constituency.

“It is physically impossible to keep meeting a voter who is living in one corner of my constituency,” Limbavali says. “But with Facebook and WhatsApp, they have access to me 24×7. I use their suggestions and also address their problems whenever replies pour-in for posts of inauguration of roads or other such activities.”

While Limbavali and Kharge could be labelled active social media users, they are not alone. Several MLAs have become hyperactive online over the last four months. One user even questioned Shanthinagar MLA, N A Haris for posting information on all the projects he inaugurated or functions he attended.

Not long after Haris posted information on newly-constructed skywalks, shot back: “Good politicians (that includes good human being) don’t show off everyday on social media announcing their accomplishments like – paved this road, attended this function, etc.. like he does each and every day multiple times. This shows how insecure they are.”

To this, the MLA responded: “Brother… there is a huge difference between showing off and informing my constituency people on initiatives initiated for their benefit. I kindly recommend you study the difference and help spread msgs of our good work and also play a part in helping than pointing a finger of criticism (sic).”

Money for the needy

While most MLAs may be trying to generate goodwill ahead of elections by propagating infrastructure projects under their reign, Chamrajpet MLA B Z Zameer Ahmed Khan has taken it a step further by even posting videos and pictures of him distributing money for the “needy”.

In one video, Khan hands Rs 5,000 to one person for his son’s medical treatment, while in another, he hands Rs 13 lakh to a noted personality in Chamrajpet constituency to repossess and renovate the person’s ancestral home.

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