In the last several elections starting from the 2014 general elections, social media has made its presence felt as it has become a tool to gamer support for political parties.
The upcoming Delhi Assembly election is no different as the ruling Aam Aadmi Party is trying to stay abreast to woo young voters through the use of pop culture references and social media. AAP is using satire, memes and morphed versions of advertisements to give a twist to the campaign and make it more appealing to the tech-savvy voters.
As is the tradition, the party so far used social media to promote the works done by its government in the past five years, but over the last few days, it has turned to more popular means of attracting people's attention.
After the Election Commission sounded the bulge for the upcoming elections by announcing the poll date, AAP tweeted: "Delhi Assembly Elections are declared. AAPvengers! Assemble," taking a cue from 'The Avengers,' a superhero film based on a team of Marvel Comics superheroes.
It has also posted ameme, where they said when asked "how much do you pay for your electricity and water?", Delhiites say "We Don't Do That Here" a quote by the character 'Black Panther" from the 2018 Marvel superhero film 'Avengers'.
AAP had posted a photo where several people were raising their hands during a town hall meeting with Arvind Kejriwal, and the caption was "who all got zero electricity bill".
The party has been posting satirical and political cartoons as well. However, as the elections are approaching, it has become more creative. AAP has been posting quirky replies to the remarks made by BJP leaders and has been taking a jibe at them.
It asked BJP's Delhi unit president Manoj Tiwari to stop "copying" AAP when he said BJP will give five times more electricity and water to the city if elected.
AAP government is offering 200 units of free electricity and 20,000 litres of free water to the people of the city.
When BJP's Hardeep Singh Puri had said that the AAP believed in freebie model as they have nothing to offer, AAP used Tiwari's statement in counter and asked the two BJP leaders to "talk to each other and decide what exactly you want to do".
Among the most liked and circulated tweet from AAP was the morphed version of an advertisement of a cement company.
In the original video advertisement, twin brothers are shown to have put up a brick wall between their houses. However, after realising that they had committed a mistake, they try to take the wall down through different means, but fail to do given the strength of the advertised cement.
In the morphed version by the AAP, the twins are shown to represent Congress and BJP, and the video ends equating AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal with the cement brand and named it "Kejri-Wall". The video has recieved over 3,17,200 views in just about 50 hours.
On being asked, Social Media and IT Strategist of AAP, Ankit Lal said the party has limited resources and so they need to be creative.
"We have around 200 full-time volunteers for the social media team, who have taken a break from their work for the elections. We have about 5,000 volunteers across the country who are associated with us online on a part-time basis. In Delhi, a team of 3,000 volunteers are on the ground and help us in our social media campaign. Kejriwal had met 800 of them," Lal told IANS.
While the 5,000 are working online, the 3,000 are in direct touch with the party and regular meetings are being cunducted, explained Lal, adding this is a rough estimate as of now and the number may go up as the election approached.
He said this is not new for the party. "We have used a similar technique in the LokSabha elections, however, the scale was not such at that time."
The party chose this method, according to Lal, because the BJP does not know how to respond to satire. Whenever we say something satirical, they don't know how to react, across the board."
Also, the reason for using pop culture is because it has mass appeal as well.
"We have a lot of data and it was important to give this data in the form of relatable communication. We are trying to use our available resources to reach out to people."
He said the party works on a volunteers basis. "Our attempt is to use the already available resources for the best outcome. On social media, it is very easy to invest money and get attention. Even a common man can do that. The BJP has a lot of money and they can use it. But we as an organisation have to limit our expenses. We have to fight creatively with those having huge monetary resourses.
"Here, these 5,000 people come to use. Any of our volunteers can come up with an idea and that reaches me by two to three hours. We are crowdsourcing ideas . After an idea reaches me, we also see if it is doable or not. Also, will it be okay to go ahead with such a thing,"he explained.
On Twitter, AAP has five million followers and on Facebool, the party's page is followed by over four million people. Apart from the two, the party also has the 'Arvind Kejriwal' mobile application that gives out information about the governments schemes, campaigns and speeches, downloaded over 50,000 times.
The city is going for elections on February 8.