The BJP party and its National IT cell has hired over 5000 IT and social media professionals on a pan-India basis for a massive final online salvo against its opponents, particularly the Congress in a run-up to the Karnataka elections.
It must be mentioned here that this additional workforce of over 5000 skilled professionals is in addition to the already existing huge IT team that the BJP party employs and even pays for. For its online and social media campaign for the Karnataka elections, IndiaScoops.com has learnt that the BJP has employed well over 25,000 dedicated IT workers all over India, who are working day and night to promote the BJP ideology, PM Narendra Modi’s initiatives and and counter the Congress digital offensive.
According to reliable sources in the BJP IT cell, the additional army of about 5000 workers has started working since the 1st week of May and will continue till 12th May for a period of 10 to 12 days. Most of them (who are not from the State) are working from their own homes, using their own hardware and infrastructure, while about 10 per cent of this workforce is stationed at Election Offices of the various BJP candidates across the State.
Initially, during the last week of April, an over-confident BJP IT team was taken aback with the Congress IT cell’s online blitzkrieg, led by former actress and Congress MP and now Congress IT cell head Divya Spandana aka Ramya. Spandana’s team unleashed a massive volley of digital posts that outsmarted the BJP online.
Stunned by the onslaught, the BJP top brass led by Amit Shah and Narendra Modi decided on the acquisition of an additional, emergency IT work force to supplement and complement the efforts of the existing BJP IT cell. The new army does not report to the main boss Amit Malviya, but instead follows his footsteps from a discrete distance. In fact, till about a few days ago, Malviya himself was not aware of the existence of a new digital army. Modi and Shah wanted the new army to work completely independent of Malviya’s team and do their own work, silently and secretly.
The techies are being paid Rs 1500 to Rs 3500 per day, depending on their capability and hours of work. Super professionals or online campaign managers who are tasked with the job of motivating and co-ordinating with others in their teams are being paid Rs 5000 per day. Each individual is expected to work a minimum of 8 to 10 hours per day from home using his or her own laptop (or computer) and internet connection. There are at least 200 new Photoshop experts who are tasked with the job of creating digital memes and digital posters or designs praising the work of the BJP government in states where it is in power.
This army of digital professionals creates new, fake Facebook IDs, Pages, Groups and Twitter handles and share the posts and tweets emanating from official BJP sources and IT cell members. Each member has also been tasked with the job of creating a fake Facebook and Twitter ID and roping in friends (and friends of friends) from his/her own friend list and then anonymously influencing them using digital tools, to vote for the BJP.
With the Karnataka Assembly elections just days away, on 12 May, the election campaigns of various political parties have gained momentum in the state and all parties are leaving no stone upturned to win the race.
The state is crucial for the Congress as Karnataka is one of the party’s last bastions. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is vying for a comeback in the state after it was defeated by the Congress in the 2013 Assembly elections in Karnataka. Faced with dwindling prospects in Uttar Pradesh, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is also eyeing a victory in the upcoming elections in Karnataka.
According to a post in The National Herald (NH), the battle for votes in Karnataka is being fought at many levels. On the ground it is an epic clash between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. In cyberspace a proxy war is waging between the two national parties led by two lesser-known warriors—Amit Malviya and Divya Spandana, the brains behind the social media attack forces of the BJP and the Congress. The sheer ferocity of the online combat is almost incredible. It is almost a non-stop carnage in the sky with unrestrained verbal allegations aimed at influencing the voters, says the NH.
But the Congress is still lagging far behind. The BJP has thousands of workers that outnumber the Congress team several times over. For every one Congress cyber warrior, the BJP has 5. The ratio of Congress to BJP cyber warriors as of today is 1:5. Maybe, as the BJP is ruling in several States and has huge coffers and almost unlimited funds, it can afford to pay many more workers than the Congress can. But Rahul Gandhi and his core team must somehow find the funds to pay thousands of cyber professionals if he wants to win the cyber war against the BJP. Numbers count. Even if you run paid campaigns on social media, without actual or physical clicks, the campaigns won’t take off.
Unlike campaign rallies on the ground by candidates and leaders, the cyber war may be silent and invisible, but the impact is tangible and undeniable. The novelty factor of virtual world warfare makes it difficult to measure by conventional yardsticks. But the general impression is that the Congress is winning the Twitter war, whereas the BJP is still ahead in the WhatsApp platform.
On Facebook the latest indications are that the Spandana army has gained the upper hand over the Malviya brigade, claims the National Herald. What is really new about the high-tech warfare is that back in 2014 it was one-sided, with the Congress presence on social media virtually non-existent.
But this time is so different that that BJP party bosses are said to be sorely disappointed with Malviya and his team and are even thinking of a major re-staffing after the Karnataka elections to put up a better performance on the road to 2019. Is Malviya going to be kicked out after the Karnataka Elections? Watch this space for more…