Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal face online heat as people vote with feet

Written by Anushree Bhattacharyya | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 30 2014, 18:40pm hrs
All political parties, be it Narendra Modi's BJP, Rahul Gandhi's Congress or even new-kid-on-the-block Arvind Kejriwal's AAP, suffered a dent in voter interest in April, the month in which voting began across the country marking the beginning of the end of almost a year-long high-pitched election drama.

If online bustle is anything to go by, voters across the country reflected either fatigue or disillusionment with parties in the fray as positive mentions for all political entities declined in the month on social media networks and other popular platforms such as blogs and Google Hangout, says a report by an independent global digital agency TO THE NEW.

Individually, however, April was a good month for the BJPs prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi as his popularity soared online during the month. Modi, incidentally, happens to be the most talked about, both in positive and negative veins, political leader online.

On the other hand, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Modis co-contestant from Varanasi and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal suffered a blow with more negative comments from internet junkies.

The report, which trawled social media and other online hangout platforms and picked all and any mentions to political parties and leading actors such as Modi, Gandhi junior and Kejriwal, found that Priyanka Gandhi, though a late entrant in the game, found many takers online.

While his supporters may be screaming Modi aane vala hai on the ground, the sentiment online wasnt so definite about him in the month. In fact, positive mentions about him dropped from 152,550 in the April 8-14 week to 112,146 in the subsequent week. The tide turned in the third week (April 22-28) with positive buzz on him climbing back to 154,386.

Congress president Sonia Gandhis daughter Priyankas online popularity soared from a mere 6436 in the first week to 8275 in week 2 and 31314 in the third week.

Her brother, however, suffered a drop in his popularity throughout the month as positive mentions about him dipped from 16,848 in week 1 to 9427 in week 2 to a mere 5907 in the third week. Surprisingly, BJP president Rajnath Singh witnessed a minor spike in his popularity initially (1006 positive mentions in week 1 and 1393 in week 2) before crashing at 733 in the third week.

The online journey was a bit arduous for AAPs Kejriwal who began with a decrease in online mentions from 90356 in week 1 to 37009 in week 2 but bounced back in the third week with 79885 positive mentions.

Social media and other online platforms such as blogs played a crucial role in political campaigning this year. All major political parties had dedicated digital teams charting and fixing their online journey on the go. BJP alone had more than 20 million volunteers whose moves were coordinated by BJPs IT cell in Delhi.

We identified some 150 digital constituencies across the country and our online efforts were unified and targeted on voters in these territories, said Arvind Gupta, convenor, IT Cell, BJP.

While other parties didnt have such a co-ordinated online presence, their supporters and volunteers kept the buzz alive for them while countering attacks from rivals.

The report states that all political parties saw a decrease in positive buzz week over week in April. For instance, positive mentions about BJP crashed from 105358 in week 1 to 85806 in week 2 and finally to 65332 in week 3. Likewise, AAP declined from 46393 positive mentions in week 1 to 43678 in week 2 to 23461 in the third week.