Hotmail founder Sabeer Bhatia is all geared up to bring defeat to the 23-year long Communist government in the Indian state of West Bengal.
Bhatia has been appointed by the opposition party, Trinamool Congress, to drive an online campaign to overturn the Communist government in the state. Union railway minister, popularly known as ‘Didi’ Mamta Banerjee, formed the party way back in the 90s after breaking up with the Indian National Congress.
This would be the first time in the history of state politics of West Bengal where the people will witness a poll campaign using current technology.
The party has roped in Bhatia hoping his inclusion will appeal to the generation Y voters, who constitute a major chunk of the electorate.
After meeting Banerjee, Bhatia said: “People of West Bengal are working for a change and I am here to share some of my ideas for better communication. The more an organisation becomes cyber savvy, the better it can reach out to people.”
Bhatia will help the Trinamool cyber team which includes two IIM students in building an interactive interface for the party. The online activity will be backed by SMS and other mobile media campaigns.
The big question is to what extent this cyber campaign will reach out to the rural, semi-urban, cyber-unsavvy voters that covers more than 85 percent of the electorate. The remaining 15 percent is mostly cynical about the future of state politics.
It’s not the first time that Indian politics will witness online poll campaigning of this degree. Earlier, in national politics, then ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP’s) ambitious ‘India Shining Campaign’ suffered a severe backlash, leading them to face a defeat in the Lok Sabha elections.
Only time will say if it’s too early for Indian political parties to go online, as internet penetration in India has realistically still not reached 15 percent – if we ignore the telecom industry sponsored research papers.
Even among the internet-savvy population, the majority is just not that bothered to make any difference to our ‘Great Indian Tamasha’, let alone in Red-ish West Bengal.