In the largely rural constituency of Gautam Budh Nagar, the political parties are opting for knocking on doors and laying the groundwork instead of asking for ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ on social media. Most people in this 1,442 square km district – almost equivalent to the size of Delhi – rely on agriculture for their livelihood, but the economy of Noida and Greater Noida is driven by the industrial and the services sectors.
The Lok Sabha election here is being fought in villages, community centres and parks, though some candidates are using Facebook and Twitter to reach out to urban voters.
In the district, BJP candidate Dr. Mahesh Sharma’s campaign seems most active on social media, but his team said they are “minimising the effort” as the focus has shifted to door-to-door campaigning. “We don’t need to bother to get likes because of the Modi factor. Our posts go viral on their own as people keep retweeting. All we have to do is time the posts correctly,” said Tanmay Shankar, the convener of the BJP Gautam Budh Nagar IT Cell.
According to him, Dr. Sharma’s social media campaign targets three kinds of voters – those interested in the party, those supporting BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and the locals supporting Dr. Sharma. The IT cell tailors the posts and tweets from Dr. Sharma’s accounts to these three groups.
The Facebook page for Dr. Sharma, the sitting MLA from Noida, has 16,764 likes. In comparison, Samajwadi Party candidate Narender Bhati has only 607 likes. “We are getting a good response on Facebook,” claimed Mr. Bhati’s spokesperson.
Candidates of other major parties – the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party – don’t have any personal presence on social media. The BSP, however, has a Facebook page for its district unit. With 1,429 likes, the page promotes party chief Mayawati’s development record and posts updates from candidate Satish Awana’s campaign.
The Aam Aadmi Party has a dedicated Facebook page for Noida, which has 5,333 likes. The banner on top of the page claims “This is revolution”. On the other hand, the Congress does not have any verified accounts for the district or their candidate Ramesh Chand Tomar.