The electronic campaignMay 9th, 2009 | By Elections2009 | Category: Poll Pourri
Sruthi Krishnan, Chennai
E-mails, SMSes, voice drops… parties tap all possible ways to reach the voter
Electronic missives are issuing forth from the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam to woo voters. The email and SMS campaigns in Tamil Nadu are reaching out to inboxes and mobile phones, campaign managers of both parties say.
The BJP campaign has a data bank of around 10 lakh email addresses in each constituency it is contesting, which is approximately one crore email addresses, says K.T. Raghavan, in charge of the media campaign in Tamil Nadu.
“It is impossible in parliamentary elections for the candidate to meet every voter,” says Mr. Raghavan. “Through this type of campaign we can reach so many more voters, especially in a constituency such as South Chennai where the literacy is high and many have access to the Internet,” he adds.
While the BJP has tie-ups with organisations to obtain email addresses, the DMK is tapping into its volunteer base to get email IDs. “Though we have not reached the level of the United States where a lot of campaigning is done online, we are getting there,” says Hasan Mohamed Jinnah, deputy secretary of the DMK’s youth wing. Around one crore emails would be sent, he said.
The DMK sites include www.dmk.in and www.mkstalin.net. The latter has been updated recently to include pages on the election campaign. Speeches given by DMK leaders on the campaign trail would also be uploaded to the site, said Mr. Jinnah.
The BJP also plans to promote the website of L. Ganesan, its candidate for South Chennai, just as it promoted L.K. Advani’s site. The party has a tie-up with Google to beam advertisements of the site www.laganesan.in from the 300 to 400 sites popular among folks in Chennai, says Mr. Raghavan.
The DMK was focussing on the party’s achievements, rather than any particular candidate, says Mr. Jinnah. “Instead of talking about R.S. Bharathi or Dayanidhi Maran, we are projecting the successes of Kalaignar and the achievements of the UPA government,” he says.
Though the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam is not planning email campaigns, the party has a poll on its website www.dmdkparty.com, which lets them count the number of people who say they would vote for DMDK. The script does not allow for duplicate entries, a DMDK official said.
The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam ( www.aiadmkallindia.org) has not planned an email campaign, a party official said.
For Independents too, the Internet is an affordable medium of campaign. Few software professionals volunteered to create Desia Paadhukaapu Kazhagam’s N.S. Venkatraman’s website http://votefortruth.in. Emails were sent across to many and they in turn forwarded them across, says Mr. Venkatraman. The limitation of such a campaign was that it could not be focussed on one constituency, he says.
Unlike conventional campaigns, the parties were still figuring out methods to determine the success of the Internet campaign.
Through the website lkadvani.in, 1250 volunteers had signed up, which was an indicator of the effectiveness, says Mr. Raghavan.
During the 2006 Assembly election, the DMK had sent out emails which received a good response, says Mr. Jinnah. “Say we send out a lakh e-mails. We receive 50,000 replies,” he says, which indicates that the message was reaching across. In addition, there are parameters such as number of visits and how many viewed the manifesto.
The BJP is also planning a “voice drop.” Mr. Raghavan says, “You will get a call on your phone and L.K. Advani will speak to you, asking for your vote.” The AIADMK too had adopted this method, and many voters heard the party general secretary Jayalalithaa seeking their support.