The smart voter
  • BJP is credited with leveraging the new power of social media since 2014.

    With every fresh election in India, democracy feels more energetic with larger viral effect of social media. It is interesting to see the impact of its growing influence even in state elections.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi started his Gujarat elections campaign on 27 November 2017. His party is credited with leveraging the new power of social media since 2014. With every fresh election in India, democracy feels more energetic with larger viral effect of social media. It is interesting to see the impact of its growing influence even in state elections:


“Gujarat Elections” search led to 3, 96,000 results on YouTube.

Hardik Patel’s alleged ‘CD’ Video goes viral ahead of Gujarat Assembly Election 2017 (NewsX) (1,305,184 views)

Ahead of Gujarat Elections 2017, Hardik Patel’s alleged CD goes viral (ABP News) (1,132,460 views)

Gujrat election congress win (DB Live) (1,022,036 views)

Gujarat election 2017 Prediction by Dev Niranjan (782,787 views)

Viral Sach: Rahul Gandhi had paid crowd in the Gujarat Assembly Election rally? (ABP News) (580,583 views)

Gujarat election latest (Modi again in 2019) (498,235 views)

Of the top six uploads, top two combined enjoyed 2.4 million views. This content was viral-friendly. Now the word ‘CD’ in media means ‘controversy disc’ and is invariably to spike up the viewership data. It should not surprise as pervert minds consume any grade of content.


DB Live uploaded a spun headline ‘BJP lost eight seats’. It remained low specifying Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee elections in Gujarat. Naturally it received pretty good view count and served as fodder for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rivals. At number four, astrologers also threw their hats with predictions. Predicting the unknown has always got share of attention economy and money in Indian culture.

ABP News, with two contributions in the top six, had got it somewhat right. It had an insight into ‘sensationalism’ and morally high ‘truth beholder’ role of media against the fake news promoted on social media hence their popular programme’s name Viral Sach.

What is interesting is ‘Modi again in 2019’ enjoying half million at number six in the last two weeks as Prime Minister Modi was about to start his campaign. In ‘political campaigning on social media’, this is significantly strategic as it starts shaping small victory into bigger success. At the moment we don’t have any known or alleged Russians hacking US elections equivalent in India yet the influence is staggering.

To quote The Economist, “Facebook acknowledged that before and after last year’s American election, between January 2015 and August this year, 146m users may have seen Russian misinformation on its platform. Google’s YouTube admitted to 1,108 Russian-linked videos and Twitter to 36,746 accounts. Far from bringing enlightenment, social media have been spreading poison.”

In India, social media looks more like opinions, news, trends manufacturing industry than the old school truth beholder news media that used to qualitatively foster debates, arguments and churn views to shape public opinion. On the contrary, it is often used to create row, trolls and negative atmosphere.

On the more positive note, democracy is thriving under the fire of social media. And it flows from the top in world’s largest democracy. The Prime Minister’s speeches, quotes, comments, criticism tweets continue to trend on social media, to ensure uninterrupted vibrancy in Indian democracy.


News makers and news consumers are increasingly on Twitter. Prime Minister Modi has now 22.9 million + followers. In contrast, ABP Asmita TV news channel in Gujarati has just 17.2K followers amidst Gujarat elections. In the new media, many individuals are larger identities than the organisations they represent. Many news anchors have more followers than their news channels’ followers.

Besides national or state elections, social media runs deeper into local politics. #UPCivicPolls2017 – one of the top trend on 1 December 2017 was being keenly analysed by news channels to link with voters’ mood hence impact Gujarat voters which in turn will impact next state elections in Karnataka. PMO app now opens with ‘Latest News’ and ‘Social Feed’. Website PMINDIA greets with ‘News Updates’ in eleven languages including English.


India’s freedom struggle led by its powerful party, Indian National Congress was born on 28 December 1885. After 132 years, it is busy in another fight for TRUTH on Twitter. It has only 3.3 million followers in country of 1.25 billion people.

Fight for truth on Twitter Fight for truth on Twitter

This is 41.8 per cent lower than 7.89 million followers of BJP on its official twitter account. By the number of its members, BJP claims to be world’s largest political party. BJP’s lead on Twitter shapes opinions and counter opinions with ceaseless energy every day.

BJP on Twitter follows only two persons BJP on Twitter follows only two persons

Interestingly, another big difference lies in the how many ‘others’ are being followed by these two parties. BJP on Twitter follows only two persons – Prime Minister Modi and Party President Amit Shah. INC follows 2,362 Twitter accounts of other organisations and people. On frequency of activity by Tweets, BJP 165K is way ahead of 43.9K of INC.


Facebook is the declared world leader on social media. In India and her exemplary democracy, it is now playing an active role with ‘newer emphasis on video’ content over text. For many years now, it has provided the proverbial vent to people’s positive and negative emotions, opinions, random views and well-analysed events. It seems to be maturing now with audiences’ sharper preferences for content consumption. Started off as a friendly and family images sharing platform in India, Facebook is fast emerging as a larger, parallel new social commentary, self-ruled community medium for practically unfiltered information, infotainment, newsensationalism, and open broadcasting.

‘News on Facebook’ provides top trends, politics, science and technology, sports and entertainment in Urdu, English, Hindi, Assamese, Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati, Oriya, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam languages. In APAC, India leads by her listed languages given the largest Facebook community in India. Languages have always played a strategic role in geo-politics, cultural influences and promotional success. Facebook today enjoys share of our attention for the fluid news by a spectrum of posts, public posts, photos, people are saying, videos, pages, groups, articles, places, and trending news etc. No wonder, all legacy media businesses are reimagining their business models.


On the demand side, news on social media is being consumed in a larger, fragmented way wherein the individual is in the centre of universe as the editor. He or she could be reporter, photojournalist, and self-styled editor. Disruptive journalism with Hindi Heartland famous pair Heera–Moti team up to serve ‘desityled’ journalism with ‘real time comments’ and responses for deeper engagement unthinkable on legacy TV news. It prides itself in the joy of friendly news, youthful desi energy, and in-your-face language. News that boils and raises temperatures for the verbal street fights quite like on tea stalls or addas in villages or small towns. It loves talking about, in its own idiom, cultural taboos and modestly seeks suggestions to improve by discretion. When such rustic news media deepens into the roots of democracy through colloquial social content and gains popularity with 2.5 million total follows in just 24 months, it proves its power to influence the idea of democracy in India.

Internet > Outdoor, Cinema, Radio, Magazines

At a business level, new media on internet garners higher advertising revenue than traditional media except print and TV. Given the relative higher credibility of print followed by TV as a medium, internet (advertising) still has a long way to wield its fuller effect.

However social media will continue to enjoy its sway on society, economy and democracy by likes, comments, share, block and new features.

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