Even though the election rallies have come to a close, the parties continue to rigorously campaign online. The virtual world has emerged as a cost-effective medium to campaign for some candidates in the city. ‘Only 24 hours to go' says a tweet on ‘Amma for Tamilnadu' on Tuesday.
The city walls are untouched after the regulations imposed by the Election Commission, whereas the ‘walls' on social networking sites such as Facebook are filled with election propaganda.
For independent candidates who have limited funds, social networking sites offer a great opportunity to reach out to voters.
‘For a better Anna Nagar, Vote for Santhana Kumar' says a page on Facebook. “It is going viral here,” says Santhana Kumar, who recently started the page and also a blog on Wordpress. On Facebook, ‘friends' were informed that he is contesting in the election through his status updates and the message was passed on within minutes once they shared the link in turn with others.
“Once when I was on a door-to-door campaign, a youngster identified me as he had come across my Facebook page. Even if students, who are not eligible to vote, read these messages, they can sometimes inform their family members,” he says. As a result people find it easier to identify with these candidates rather than vote for complete strangers.
SMS campaigns have also been doing the rounds. Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president K.V. Thangkabalu complained about the surge of strongly worded messages against him.
As part of the campaign strategy, political parties too have not failed to bank on the online medium. Hasan Mohammed Jinnah, DMK candidate from Thousand Lights, started the hasanjinnah.in website inspired by Deputy Chief Minister MK. Stalin's website.
“Within a week, the website had 5,000 visitors,” says Mr. Jinnah. He is also using the popularity of Facebook, Orkut and Twitter and inviting people to post queries or send e-mails.
Jinnah's manifesto and profile have been uploaded on the page for members to access. “The constituency that has a significant elite population can be reached through the Internet.
When a photograph of me along with actor Rajinikanth was put up, the viewership increased,” says Mr. Jinnah. It is also an eco-friendly and cost effective way to reach out to more people.
The DMK party also has a blog on Wordpress where the party's views are published.
On the other hand, the AIADMK has launched ‘electadmk.com'. It has complete details of the party's candidates, manifesto and a forum to comment.
The CPI (M) candidate Bheema Rao from Maduravoyal is also not far behind. “The Facebook profile and e-mail subscriptions were mainly targeted at ordinary Internet users. It did not have a significant reach since we could not identify the voters in a particular constituency,” said his PRO K. Nagarajan.
Keywords: Tamil Nadu assembly polls