How Gujarat election was fought on Twitter
Bengaluru, Dec 20: In Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Digital India", the Gujarat Assembly elections 2017 was well-fought on Twitter too.
Gone are the days when elections were only about public rallies, door-to-door campaigning and day old news about political developments to be scanned through newspapers during breakfast times.
Social media has changed the way we look, understand and analyse elections. With Twitter, elections have become more personal affairs as everyone can be a part of the democratic process even while staying miles away from the scene of action.
This time, during the Gujarat Assembly elections, the results of which were declared on Monday, Twitter was the main platform where the all-important polls were virtually fought by politicians, political parties and the public. The voting for the state elections was held on December 9 and 14.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was declared as the winner of the elections as it bagged 99 seats in the 182-member state Legislative Assembly-seven seats more than the magic number 92 to form the government in Gujarat.
According to @TwitterIndia, the official Twitter India account, over 1.9 million tweets related to the elections in the home state of PM Modi were posted on the social media platform from December 1 to December 18.
"Over 1.9 million Tweets in relation to the #GujaratElection since Dec 1. How Twitter reacted," tweeted @TwitterIndia on Tuesday.
Right from Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi regularly updating their supporters about their Gujarat-related rallies and events on the micro-blogging site to common man's reactions on political developments in the western state, nobody brings election so "up close and personal" for any news junkie like Twitter does.
From breaking news to live streaming, Twitter turned Gujarat elections into a big fat Indian wedding where all were invited, even if the person shares no relationship with either the bride or the groom.
Writing about the kind of attention the Gujarat polls garnered on Twitter, Mahima Kaul, head of public policy, Twitter India, wrote, "With more than 1.9 million mentions on Twitter in relation to the #GujaratElection over the past 2.5 weeks (from Dec 1 - 18, 2017), Twitter is the best place to see what's happening in the political scene in India and to talk about it."
"From breaking news to behind the scenes action, political parties, candidates and citizens sparring over hot election topics, this was the first time that Twitter introduced live streaming of the elections in India, adding more ways for people to watch the #GujaratElection unfold in real-time," Kaul added.
Stressing on the pan-India popularity of Twitter as the favourite medium to disseminate information about elections which in turn shapes public opinion and generates discussions on politics, Kaul wrote, "Despite the fact that the elections occurred in one State of India, i.e. Gujarat, discussions on Twitter were vibrant all over the country and even worldwide, especially on final results day."
"People all over the world leveraged Twitter to see what's happening in India as the nation develops as a cultural, economic and political force to be reckoned with," the official of Twitter India added.
According to Twitter India, Modi emerged as the most mentioned personality during the course of Gujarat elections on the micro-blogging site, while Vijay Rupani emerged as the most mentioned candidate.
"Between the parties, it was a close fight as the BJP garnered 53 per cent of the share of voice on Twitter while the Congress took 47 per cent," informed Kaul.
Apart from focusing on political parties and leaders, Twitter users highlighted issues important for voters during the elections.
"Development, Religion and Hindutva, and GST emerged among the most talked about topics during the elections. The most mentioned hashtag was #GujaratElection2017. Among the top 10 retweeted tweets, 5 of them were Hindi Tweets, suggesting rising interest in local language conversations on Twitter," as per Twitter India data.
Thus next time, you want to know about any elections and political events in the country, Twitter promises to bring you the "real picture".
However, the critics warned that excessive use of social media has turned Indian politics more poisonous.
"Twitter is a good medium to exchange information and learn about various developments across the world. However, a lot of things on Twitter are lies. The users should be careful before retweeting anything, these days," said a social media strategist from Bengaluru.