UNI

Chennai

Politics, or rather politicians, have caught up with the latest communications technology. Or so it seems.

If your mobile phone goes beep, beep, you know it's an SMS. Yes, but this time it is not a friend `forwarding' you the latest joke. It's somebody else: your friendly neighbourhood politico. With the May 8 Assembly polls not far off, he is just canvassing for votes.

The changing world has changed the world of politics too, at least during poll time!

Today's politician has evolved with the times. What with the Election Commission cracking down hard with its Model Code of Conduct vis-à-vis wall writings and slogans, the trusted tools of propaganda along with `bit notices', wall posters and graffiti.

They have found an alternative through SMS and e-mail. Yes, politicians are beeping the message `vte 4 me' fast and furious. If you have a high-end mobile you can also get to see a leader's mug shot and the party's symbol. As a party functionary in the city reasons, sending SMS for canvassing votes is `easy, convenient, and cheaper'. "Expenditure is very important with the Election Commission keeping a strict watch on how much a candidate is spending to gain votes. The mobile phone has become an integral part of society today. It helps us reach out to a potential voter. With several cellular operators giving free SMS facility, it is cost-effective," the functionary adds.

Another advantage is that the messages can be forwarded to other voters. This makes the job of canvassing easier, he adds.

The activists of various parties are reaching out to the electorate through SMS and local cable TV channels in different localities, according to a party office-bearer in the city, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The BJP State unit has already gone the SMS way and several of its programmes including schedules of party leaders and proposed press briefings are being intimated through SMS to journalists.