Over a thousand ‘likes' on the latest update, nearly 200 ‘shares' and a long thread of comments – Mayor Saidai S.Duraisamy's Facebook page is buzzing with activity.
In response to several requests from residents eager to meet him in person, the Mayor on Thursday said that those interested could confirm his availability with the staff at his CIT Nagar office and visit him.
Mr. Duraisamy has been on Facebook since 2010, interacting with IAS aspirants regularly, says M. Karthikeyan, director, Saidai Sa. Duraisamy's Manidha Naeyam IAS Academy, who helps maintain his account on the site.
“He has been in regular touch with the student community through this account but avoided political discussions on it. After being elected Mayor, we identified an opportunity to connect with younger residents through the network,” he says.
In addition to Mr. Duraisamy's individual account, two pages were created just before the local body polls, to promote him as the prospective Mayor.
The ‘Mayor' pages, which were created as a forum to campaign ahead of the local body polls, have now morphed into a highly interactive platform where the Mayor interacts with residents.
As on Thursday evening, Mr. Duraisamy had 4,753 friends in his individual account, in addition to the over 13,000 members of the ‘Chennai Mayor 2011' page, and the nearly-600 persons who ‘like' the ‘Saidai Sa Duraisamy Chennai Mayor' page.
His pages get updated quite regularly, as is evident from the photographs of the recent swearing in ceremony, messages on immediate plan of action for flood mitigation or strategy for garbage disposal.
The pages are also being used to mobilise youth for various social causes. According to Mr. Karthikeyan, as many as 440 youngsters, mostly, students, signed up for a beach cleaning drive following a Facebook post announcing it.
“Similarly, we have put together a database of nearly 2,000 willing blood donors by networking on Facebook.”
From friends pledging their support for public health issues, or those giving suggestions for good local governance, the Mayor's page presents an interesting variety of responses and petitions from residents. Some friends such as Sankar Renganathan have posted with a sense of camaraderie, too. “Great !! but as usual, lets not wait for next monsoon to tackle the monsoon woes ,and let's start acting,” reads his message on the Mayor's wall.