NC, PDP slug it out on social media

M I Jehangir
Srinagar: With nearly five lakh followers, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister is making full use of his micro-blogging site for poll-related messages as the two arch political rivals – National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party – have taken their fight to social media for the Lok Sabha elections in the state that will start from April 10.
Interestingly, while Abdullah has 475,000 followers on Twitter, his party NC has mere 1800 followers as against PDP’s 1044 followers.
Realising the big publicity potential of social media, these heavyweights of regional politics of J-K are using Twitter and Facebook to reach out to a wider audience, particularly the youth of the valley.
Working president of NC, Abdullah is a pioneer among the state’s politicians using social media and used his personal Twitter account to comment on the latest developments in the state and elsewhere in the world and also to post pictures and videos of election rallies since the Election Commission announced the schedule for the Lok Sabha polls.
The active use of social media by the two parties is attributed to the entry of two young leaders. While NC wooed Junaid Azim Mattu into its ranks ahead of the Lok Sabha polls and appointed him as spokesman, Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra joined PDP and is currently its youth president.
However, the official twitter account of NC has not generated as much fan following so far as there are only 1800 followers of the state’s oldest political party.
Although most of the nearly 1600 tweets on NC’s official account are retweets of Omar’s speeches, the party has started using the site to post videos and photographs of election meetings at various places in the valley and Jammu region.
PDP also boasts of similar numbers in terms of tweets but has only 1044 followers. However, the Opposition party fares better on Facebook with nearly 3100 likes compared to just 2000 of the ruling NC.
Since the election schedule was announced on March 5, both NC and PDP have increased the frequency of their tweets. As much as 10 per cent of the tweets on both the accounts have come in the past one month.
Chief spokesman of PDP Naeem Akhtar said the social media had become an important tool in campaign process as the number of users has gone up significantly.
“The times have changed. Technology is no more restricted to urban areas or only certain age groups. Today even people over the age of 70 years are using Internet mobile and social media,” he said.
According to Akhtar, while social media has vast scope in helping political parties reach out to the people, most of the posts about PDP were coming from party workers.
“Most of the initiatives are impromptu as nearly 90 per cent of our cadres are youth,” he added.
Mattu, who joined NC after parting ways with People’s Conference, said the use of social media was not restricted to elections only.
“We have dedicated team in the media cell which looks after these matters. We are going to continue the use of social media to reach out to the people,” he said.
While NC and PDP are effectively using the social media, the performance of state Congress on social networking sites is next to nothing.
The state unit of Congress has only 133 followers and 28 tweets to its name in the nine months of existence with the last tweet being posted on February 8.