Telangana Elections: Major Parties Plans Big Social Media Push

In Telangana politics, Social media’s influence on elections was evident in the early 2000s; its Vishwaroopa was seen in the 2014 assembly elections after Andhra Pradesh state bifurcation.
Telangana Elections: Major Parties Plans Big Social Media Push

In Telangana politics, Social media’s influence on elections was evident in the early 2000s; its Vishwaroopa was seen in the 2014 assembly elections after Andhra Pradesh state bifurcation. The 2018 Assembly and 2019 Lok Sabha elections saw a huge increase in the use of social media. The influence of social media was seen more when the contest between TRS, Congress, and BJP took place in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation-GHMC elections. After that, it influenced voters in Dubbak, Huzurabad, and Munugode by-elections. At least two thousand social media influencers worked on behalf of each party in the by-elections. In the current assembly elections, all the parties have pinned a lot of hopes on the social media teams.

Major parties in Telangana such as BRS, BJP, and Congress parties have deployed a social media army within the limits of mandals, assembly, and parliamentary constituencies. Special training classes and motivating classes are also conducted for them from time to time. If we count those social media teams working like this, at least 2000 social media coordinators from each party are working very actively.

Social media coordinators' job is to create WhatsApp groups within the limits of gram panchayats, mandals, and assembly constituencies and circulate the posts related to the party in those groups. The key responsibility of these social media teams is to add content for WhatsApp groups and like, share, and subscribe to posts of their district and state-level leaders.

How Social Media Shaping Political Narratives?:

All the major parties BRS, BJP, and Congress have hired content creators at the state level and the district and assembly constituency level. Script writers, graphic designers, and video editors also work in these teams. The responsibility of these teams is to edit the scripts, and videos from the footage of regular political or social events. They focus on highlighting the speeches of their leaders. Moreover, these teams are focusing on trolling the opponents and creating memes.

If we count those working as political content-creating operators for major parties, there are more than 4,000 youth in this job. Apart from parties, and organizations related to politics, some MLAs, MPs, ministers and those who want to become political leaders in the future have hired their own social media content creators.

Meanwhile, local survey teams are also busy with their assignments. About thirty organizations are working locally for election surveys. Some individuals are also conducting survey works on behalf of political parties and leaders. There are around 500 people working in such survey activity. As per rough calculations, about ten thousand young men and women are getting employment based on social media, whether it is a virtue of the current election.

Highest Net-Reach & Mobile Usage in Telangana:

Internet data usage is very high in Telangana. Also, the state is at the top in the use of mobile phones. Therefore, the content pumped by political parties on social media has a viewership. At 83 subscribers for every 100 residents, Telangana is second only to Kerala (87) in internet penetration in the state in the country. Overall, internet reach in India stands at 67 for every 100 people. According to data released recently by the Union government, only four states have more than 80 subscribers per 100 people. After Kerala, Telangana, Punjab, and Himachal Pradesh also have 83 internet subscribers. In line with the high number of internet subscriptions even women of Telangana also rank among the top five in the country in terms of owning and using a mobile phone exclusively for their own needs.

Social media is playing a powerful role in Panchayat to Parliament elections as well. Savvy leaders have often leveraged new media to influence politics. Social media presence and advertising require a lot of spending. Only affluent parties can spend that much and they can influence the majority of the voter base. Platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp have become primary sources of news and information for a large segment of the Indian population. Political parties and candidates use these platforms to disseminate their messages, making it easier for them to reach a wide audience quickly. Social media has become an alternative to main media and it is an instrument for politicians to create more noise and even a way to promote polarization.

Most Followed Telangana Leaders on X:

Leaders of major parties, MPs, MLAs, and ministers are using social media well. Regarding parties in the state, the ruling BRS party’s X account (formerly Twitter) has 8.61 lakh followers. Telangana BJP has 2.64 lakh, and state Congress has 1.35 lakh subscribers.

The official account of the state chief minister's office has 16 lakh followers. One of the key leaders in the government and the BRS party, KT Rama Rao has 42 lakh followers. Meanwhile, Harish Rao & MLC Kavitha have 13 lakh followers each.

State BJP President and Union Minister Kishan Reddy's X account is being followed by 3.75 lakh people. Party MP Bandi Sanjay has 3.79 lakh, and MLA Etela Rajender has 4.57 lakh followers. Meanwhile, Rajya Sabha member Dr. K. Laxman has only 84 thousand followers. Pradesh Congress Committee president and party MP Revanth Reddy X account is followed by 3.53 lakh people, MP Uttam Kumar Reddy has 1.12 lakh followers and another MP Komati Reddy Venkata Reddy has only 37 thousand followers.

Looking at the statistics, it seems that the official BRS social media reach is high and working very effectively. The number of social media subscribers of key leaders in that party is very high. National parties like BJP and Congress rely on Delhi-based social media teams. State BJP and Congress leaders are busy liking, sharing, and reposting the content produced from their party headquarters in Delhi. In competition with the ruling BRS, both these opposition parties have fielded social media teams locally. The social media activity of these three parties increased greatly during the November 2023 assembly election. The parties' network teams are creating content that goes beyond mainstream media. Efforts are being made to impress the voters.