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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024

How BJP lagged behind on its own pitch in Lok Sabha elections, know where BJP went wrong

New Delhi: The 2024 general election was surprising. The NDA under the leadership of Narendra Modi was successful in forming the government for the third consecutive time, but this election broke many myths and also showed some reverse trends. The most important trend was the strong emergence of the opposition space on alternative media and social media. The opposition was at its peak this time in the parallel narrative. Interestingly, the platform that was the most powerful medium behind the rise of BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi in 2014, emerged as the one from where the most resistance against him/her emerged in 2024.

Dissatisfaction with the media

During the elections, the opposition was completely dependent on social media. The constituent parties of India especially used this medium to convey their message and connect with the people. The Congress especially expressed its displeasure towards the mainstream media from public forums. Rahul Gandhi did not give a single interview. The opposition and their supporters put all their strength on social media, especially YouTube. Social media influencers also supported them in this. The video made by social media influencer Dhruv Rathee against the BJP went viral across the country and received crores of views. The opposition also used this video. Such videos strengthened the fact that the BJP can change the Constitution after winning 400 seats.

The opposition’s lead

Statistics also show that during the last one year, the opposition has continuously strengthened on social media platforms. However, just before the elections, BJP and Narendra Modi himself had realized this. Before the elections, Modi had also met social media influencers. But, the opposition benefited from the lead it had gained at the very beginning. Whether it was the issue of changing the constitution, the issue of employment for the youth or any other issue, the opposition made better use of social media.

Congress video goes viral

The trends on voting patterns show how much impact social media had on the elections. Youth between 18 and 30 years voted more for the opposition this time than in 2014 and 2019. Rahul Gandhi’s videos were watched 300% more on YouTube and Instagram. Congress’ manifesto was downloaded one crore times. Viewership of content against BJP was higher on YouTube.

BJP’s mistake

Alternative media and social media played the same role in the second term of the Modi government as they did during the UPA-2 era. In fact, it had started during the farmers’ movement itself. Then the farmers used social media effectively and the movement continued for the whole year. Finally, the farmers were successful in getting their demands accepted. However, this time when the opposition was increasing its reach on social media, the BJP rejected it saying that it had become stronger on the ground. But, its assessment proved wrong somewhere, especially about the first-time voters. Brand Rahul has also strengthened among such voters in the last few years.

First impact

10 years ago, in 2014, people witnessed an election for the first time in which social media also became a battlefield. Narendra Modi emerged as a superstar there. During the entire election, social media not only broke news but also interfered in opinion making. At that time, 163 Lok Sabha seats were in urban or developing areas. According to experts, social media played an effective role in election campaigning and influencing people’s votes in these places. In 2014, despite limited internet expansion, social media had a profound impact on the election. At that time, the opposition seemed completely unaware of this platform. But, the lesson learnt then gradually started making its presence felt here as well.

BJP on the backfoot

A decade ago, for the first time, social media had confirmed the possibility of being used as a powerful weapon to take campaigns and narratives forward in India. Before this, whether it was Anna Hazare’s Lokpal movement or the movement that started after the Delhi gang rape, their outline was made on social media. Narendra Modi and his/her team had then discovered the hidden potential in it and started a campaign here by forming a strong team. On this platform, Modi emerged as a popular leader not only in the country but also in the world. Even today, he/she is the strongest on social media. But, somewhere the ruling party could not counter the collective attack of the opposition and social media influencers. On the ground where BJP and Narendra Modi used to be invincible, in this election, they were completely on the backfoot.

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