With 2019 general elections round the corner, the political parties have begun their preparations. As far as the mainstream media houses are concerned, they kicked off their campaigns for their respective political masters since 2014 only. In the past, these media houses played important roles in creating the narrative in favour of or against any political party or political leader.
Before the advent of social media, the mainstream media had the sole monopoly over creating the narrative and shaping public opinion ahead of elections. However, things began to change when social media became a popular medium of information exchange among people. Now, mainstream media houses no longer exercise full control over the flow of information, and also the information or news given by them is no longer considered sacrosanct. Netizens are quick to verify and question the claims of media. Many a time, they go to the extent of exposing the fake news and the propaganda peddled by the mainstream media houses. So the 2019 elections are not only going to be fought on the ground but also on the Internet and social media. One has to win the digital war before winning actual ground battle.
When it comes to winning the battle on social media, the BJP clearly has an upper hand. The BJP’s trump card PM Modi enjoys vast followership on all the popular social media platforms. According to a Zee News report, on Twitter PM Modi has 4.5 crore followers whereas his rival the Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has the strength of only 82 lakh followers. The difference between the followers of PM Modi and the Gandhi scion is almost five times. On Facebook also PM Modi enjoys complete dominance over the Congress chief. The former one is followed by 4.34 crore FB users and the latter enjoys followership of only 22 lakh FB users. Again the gap is huge, very huge. Similar story goes on for Instagram also. On photo and video-sharing social networking service – Instagram – PM Modi is followed by 1.64 crore people and Rahul Gandhi has a strength of 4.96 lakh in his kitty.
Total Engagements of PM Modi’s posts is much greater than that of Rahul Gandhi. In a research carried out by Zee News between 24 December 2018 to 31 December 2018, it has been found that tweets of PM Modi and Rahul Gandhi witnessed 1.60 lakh and 29 thousand engagements, respectively, per day on Twitter. Similarly, weekly figures of engagements on Twitter stood at 12 lakh engagement for PM Modi and 2 lakh 33 thousand for Rahul Gandhi.
Watch complete Zee News report: Here
This dominance of PM Modi continues on Facebook also. In a direct showdown between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Gandhi scion, on an everyday basis, the former witnesses 80,588 engagements on FB and latter one’s figure stood at just 25,513, and weekly engagement figures of both the leaders stood at 6.44 lakh and 2.04 lakh, respectively. Not just PM Modi as an individual but the entire BJP has an edge over its political rival Congress on social media. The BJP’s social media handles are more followed than the Congress’ social media accounts.
Nowadays, Google trends have emerged as a new tool to determine the popularity of any individual, product, party or organization. Google Trends-based analysis is important for India because of the tremendous internet access the country provides to its citizens. Around 512 million people in India have access to the Internet. These new Internet users spend a lot of time browsing on Google i.e. internet. The searches on Google reveal many things about their interests, passion, and choices. The way BJP is being searched in Google broadly shows the rise in the stature of the party since it stormed to power in 2014. The interest of internet users in BJP witnesses a hike whenever elections are around the corner. According to Google trends, the BJP is the most searched party in India as well as overseas. In India, 64% Google searches are in favour of the BJP while only 36% goes in the favour of Congress. The Google trends also show that PM Modi has maintained his dominance over the Congress chief since 2014.
In 2004, social media had no relevance in elections but now, before winning the ground battle one needs to win the battle of narrative on the internet, and the BJP is well prepared to do that. People are now consuming more and more information through the internet as compared to any other medium of information.