‘BJP pinged 144 million Net users in latest election’

By Gyanendra Kumar Keshri,

New Delhi : The IT cell of “Elect Modi Campaign” reached out to as many as 144 million people across India in the latest elections — a formidable bank to tap into to garner vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party, a senior office bearer overseeing it has said.

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“We were able to reach out to virtually every internet user in the country,” said Vinit Goenka, national co-convenor of the BJP’s information technology cell, who formulated the digital strategy for his party’s star campaigners.

“If you ask me, ‘how much of that translated into votes?’, I can’t give a proper answer with figures. But they formed a huge vote bank. This apart, the internet users that we pinged also had a multiplier effect in influencing more voters,” Goenka told IANS.

For the record, some 834 million people were eligible to vote and 553.8 million or 66.4 percent cast their ballot. This was the highest ever voter-turnout both in absolute and in percentage terms.

Goenka also said that ‘Gen Next’ — what with more than 100 million first-time voters joining the electoral rolls — was one of the key factors that helped the campaign. In that, the fact that the IT cell was able to reach out to them was crucial.

“Earlier, the father or the grand-father would tell youngsters at the dining table what the news was and what its interpretation should be. But today, it is an age where the youngsters get news as it happens,” said Goenka.

“The youths are aware. They form their own opinion. So, they use their own judgement in deciding whom to vote for. I won’t be surprised if young voters also now influence their parents and grand-parents. But this must is a given: They vote as they want.”

Goenka said contrary to popular belief that the IT cell was started in the run-up to the latest national elections, it has been functioning since April 2006, albeit at a smaller level, and gained momentum in 2008, when it was used in Maharashtra.

“This time around, it went pan-India. Narendra Modi gave it a lot of intensity. He said we must focus on nine ‘I’s — issues, ideology, inter-personal communication, internet, intensity, introspection, industry, integration with the party and ideating.”

Goenka said quite a few innovative concepts, practiced elsewhere, but alien to politics in India were adopted by the IT Cell, such as a bloggers’ meet, video conferencing with voters across cities and interactive call centres for voter registration.

“We also conducted two round-table sessions, this was earlier, with the chief executives of $2-billion-plus companies, to sentitise the political leadership about the kind of challenges that are faced by the industry. This was again a hit.”

(Gyanendra Kumar Keshri can be reached at [email protected])