congress chintan shivir

Whoever said that social media is free or cheap should rethink on their lines. According to the latest news, the Congress party would require Rs. 100 crore during the next 18 months i.e. till the Lok Sabha elections to counter its main opponent BJP on the social media field.

The figure was quoted by the telecom minister Kapil Sibal while he was expressing his views at the recently concluded Congress party’s Chintan Shivir. The three day Chintan Shivir was conducted by the party to asses the current situation and how should it plan it’s strategies for the upcoming elections. With other core issues like communalism, corruption and coalition being discussed at length, social media was also one of the most important topics of discussion.

It is no more a secret that the Congress party has always been caught on backfoot whether it was during the Anna movement or the recent uproar by the common man in the Delhi gangrape incident. Along with Sibal, Digvijay Singh, who heads the committee on communications strategy has shown concerns about BJP leading on the social media front. The party has been aware how Narendra Modi has created a staggering presence on social media, constantly engaged with the common man through his innovative ways and also has a team that constantly monitors social media and submits report to concerned parties.

The three day meet ended with a consensus that there needs to be a counter strategy prepared that would be submitted to Rahul Gandhi in the next ten days.

Isn’t it a late awakening by the Congress?

The entire soul searching and brain storming process of Congress has two major problems – 1) The party has suddenly woken up when the elections are close by and 2) The Congress party plans to be on social media to give a stiff competition to BJP and not for Indians.

1) The party has suddenly woken up when the elections are close by: Just before 18 months the Congress party thinks that 100 crore would be required to beat BJP on the grounds of social media. The party had first tasted the powers of social media during the Anna movement in 2011. In fact, that was the time when the party should have been serious about social media. But then they were busy either trying to regulate social media or creating presence on social media like bots.

Later on, the party got another chance to make social media it’s weapon during the North East problems but instead it chose to blame social media for everything. It started putting pressure on social networking sites, registered cases, planned state specific ban of social media and did everything other than creating positive campaigns to win the confidence of the common man.

Now all of a sudden the party wants to win back the lost confidence by pumping 100 crore in social media. But isn’t it clear that the government is not doing this by choice but by compulsion and social media only works when you genuinely want to connect with your fans.

2) Social media strategy to counter attack BJP: The other major problem is that the Congress party’s primary motive to create a social media strategy is to attack BJP or compete with the social media presence of Narendra Modi. It shows clearly that the congress party still has no clue or are not ready to learn how social media works. May be they could learn a chapter or two from Barack Obama’s social media presence.

Social media should be crafted to connect with voters, take them into confidence and work on their grievances.  But the Congress party has no plans to solve voters issue and even if it wants then 18 months is a very short period!

I won’t be surprised if half the budget allotted for social media would be invested in monitoring negative sentiments over social media and counter attacking them. In other words, the mayhem that we normally see in both the houses during Parliament debate might be  witnessed pretty soon on social media.

Slider image courtesy: deccanchronicle.com

Prasant Naidu

Founder and Editor at Lighthouse Insights.

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