Will Indian Politicians ignore the internet during the next elections?

The ink of election results is still wet. Yes, it is a bit too early to talk about how the internet/mobile would be used by our politicians in the “next elections”.

Currently every media house (print and TV) is a little busy blowing the “same tune” on their trumpet – We predicted the results correctly! Also every TV channel will now declare “We were the most watched TV channel for the election results”. After the media runs out of topics to cover about this election I guess they will start analyzing the role  the internet played during this elections.

Many may say the simple answer is “Internet did not play any role” but I don’t think it is true. During this election there was a lot of activity on the internet – if not from the politicians but from many neutral groups. The internet in India was choked during the results announcement time.

Every educated politician in India was fascinated by Obama’s electronic campaign. While Obama built a huge brand using the net I always felt one could never just copy+paste that formula in India.

Internet presence is important for every politician and party but it cannot be the sole medium for their campaign. US is a developed country (ignore all the debts, financial mess!) and India is a developing country (the internet penetration is not comparable to US).

LK Advani went gung-ho on the internet. He (his team) kept updating his blog. He spent a lot on digital marketing (thank you!). But his party, BJP, lost badly. His victory, his party’s defeat has nothing to do with the internet (or the campaign on any other medium). It has to do only with what they said and their vision. If only internet guaranteed victories for every politician I am sure everyone would have piled on to the internet bandwagon (and I am sure they wished life was that simple).

Revenue Streams From Politics For The Online World

Chances are many politicians will say “Why bother to do anything on the internet? See how BJP lost”. For starters that kind of thinking would be wrong.

  • If they take this route I believe the only big loss would be for the income generated from online marketing.
  • I don’t think there would be much loss from the revenues one would generate from developing their sites, blogs etc because our politicians/parties anyway don’t pay at all or don’t pay well (seriously, they don’t). I personally don’t mind helping those politicians who cannot afford the development costs but  the rich politicians refuse to spend.

Few politicians did not want to spend on online marketing as the Election Commission would ask them “Where do you get the money to spend on that campaign?” And most publishers did not want to accept “cash” for running those campaigns.

Let us not act innocent, we all know politicians need to spend a lot of unaccounted/black money on wooing the voters (heard few parties “embedded” gold nose rings in Laddus as they did not want to get caught giving hard cash).  It is silly on Jayalalitha’s part to cry foul. Every party, the so called secular and non-secular, does it .

What Should Politicians Do Online In The Future

  • Those who got elected from urban areas, please have a web presence. Let your constiuency know what are you doing for them.
  • Many politicians have started twittering. Try to keep it updated. I think Shashi Tharoor was the only one who updated post-results. The rest were disappointing.
  • Keep the blog updated. LK Advani’s last update was on April 22, 2009. By now his team should have put a Thank You note (there must be some standard templates in political circles for such messages). Neither Scindia or Sachin Pilot have announced on their victories on their own sites!
  • Keep your site/blog simple. Give a lot of breathing space. It was disappointing to see Jyotiraditya Scindia‘s site, it is so busy-busy. See Krishna Byre Gowda‘s site – it is simple and clean (he lost by 37,000 votes, by now he should have thanked his voters on his site and blog, but he chose not to)
  • Every young politician needs to patronize the web. It will pay off long term. After all don’t we voters have a very ‘long term’ view on you politicians hoping it will pay off some day?


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