The Bharatiya Janata Partys (BJPs) innovative platform might not have made any difference to its poll prospects in the general election that year, but it definitely ushered in a new era in poll advertising and voter reach campaigns.
Back to 2014, BJP is again pinning hopes on a similar poll plank that, it believes, will be a game-changer. So, move over trinkets, masks, apparel and other traditional paraphernalia, and say hello to mobile phone apps, games, websites, ringtones and fully-loaded smartphones dedicated to the man of the momentthe partys prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi.
As per an Election Commission estimate, about 90,000 voters, aged between 18 and 22 years, will be eligible to vote for the first time in each Lok Sabha constituency this year. This underlines the importance of the young voters often seen as impatient and aspirationalas the saffron party and its associated groups
try to woo them with new-age strategies.
The Gujarat chief minister, who has set a target of 272 Lok Sabha seats this time around, is also running an online campaignaptly called India272 to mobilise the young masses. Modi himself is an ardent user of technology. A prolific tweeter with 3.48 million followers on Twitter, he had been using 3D technology to appear at more than one political rally simultaneously.
To manage BJPs social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter, Arvind Gupta, the head of BJPs IT cell, says theres a core team of 10 people in place. This is apart from millions of supporters who make initiatives like India272 successful, he adds.
The first vote is almost 30 days away from today and we dont have time to do anything new. Our online campaign is now in the last gear. Our India272 campaign has got an overwhelming response on Twitter, Gupta says.
But not all apps and games that are available today have been developed by the BJP or Modis campaign teams.
Only official applications of the party and Modi are managed by us. The games have been developed by supporting groups. The party is not financing any such activity, Gupta explains.
As per a senior BJP leader, groups such as the Overseas Friends of BJP are sponsoring many such activities and several e-retailers are just cashing in on the politicians popularity.
China-based Smart Namo HK Ltd, for instance, has launched an Android smartphone, fully loaded with Modi apps, called Smart Namo. The phone will be preloaded with apps that contain videos, quotes, wallpapers and news related to Modi.
The Android platform has over 40 Modi-related apps with everything on offerfrom biographies and videos of his speeches to news updates. Modis official app, developed by the party, is divided into sections including news, speeches and his biography; while the NaMos Pocket Book app is
replete with his speeches. There are three different NaMo mobile games including one that is based on the popular Temple Run gaming format called Modi Run.
Modi Run was launched by Dexati, a mobile application and gaming company based in the US. In the action game, Modi runs through all the states and wins the election to become the PM. The description of the game says: Help Modi through all the states and gather the votes to win the election and become PM of India. The makers clearly say the game is not endorsed by Modi or the BJP. It is purely for entertainment, it says.
I think weve been successful in reaching out to the young voters and Im sure the impact of social media would be visible in the coming election results as well, Gupta adds.