The main candidates in the fray for the November 7 Assembly by-elections here are turning to cyberspace to rally support, apart from their supporters checking out the possibilities of social networking sites such as Orkut to reach out to tech-savvy voters.

The Left Democratic Front’s G. Krishnaprasad of the Communist Party of India (CPI) first launched a dedicated website (www.voteforkrishnaprasad.com) for his campaign, after which his supporters created a profile for him on Orkut. The personal profile was followed by a community as well on Orkut, titled ‘Vote for Krishnaprasad’, created on October 6.

On the other hand, the United Democratic Front’s candidate, A.A. Shukoor of the Congress, had Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala launching a dedicated website (www.shukuralappuzha.org) for his campaign, just a day or two after Mr. Krishnaprasad’s website went online. His supporters did not waste time in creating a profile for him on Orkut, but the profile is not as personal as that of his rival, with the name being ‘Elect A.A. Shukur’. The spelling mistakes in both the Orkut profile and website – Shukur instead of Shukoor – notwithstanding, the supporters went ahead to create a community on October 20, titled ‘Vote for A.A. Shukur’.

From the response so far, while Mr. Krishnaprasad’s personal profile has seen 92 persons joining as his friends and 72 joining as members in the community, Mr. Shukoor’s personal profile as had 29 friends.

His Orkut community, so far, has just one member and that is Mr. Shukoor himself.

The websites, meanwhile, have been in the regular election campaign mode, with links to biographies and biodata of both the candidates, appeals to voters, what the candidate plans to do if elected and of course, photo galleries.

However, Mr. Shukoor’s website, which had links to websites of Mr. Chennithala and a few blogs created to garner votes online, has gone offline from Thursday after the site exceeded the bandwidth permitted to it, a glitch overlooked by the creators of the website while posting it online.

“The response from the online experiments have nothing to do with what happens on the ground, since online campaigning is still in its infant stage in India, more so in Alappuzha. But we have done this so that no avenue is left unexplored,” a supporter of Mr. Shukoor said.