dna exclusive: BJP logs on to social media for Narendra Modi's rally

Saturday, 21 December 2013 - 8:02am IST | Agency: DNA
Party pulls out all the stops to make BKC event a success.

A toll-free number for registration, a dedicated call centre to mobilise grass-roots activists across Maharashtra, a social media blitzkrieg, online registration with a separate enclosure for such attendees and pick-up arrangements.

With Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi kicking off the NDA’s Lok Sabha campaign for the first time on Sunday after being nominated as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, the BJP is pulling out all the stops to make the rally, which leaders claim will be one of the biggest in the city, a success.

BJP social media cell convenor Jiten Gajaria said that on the rally day, a special Twitter table will be created at the venue to help social media volunteers tweet it live. This will also be done for Facebook and special pages have been created for the event.

Thousands of vehicles will be pressed into service to ferry people to the venue. A special meeting of top police officers was held at the office of the director-general of police to review security and traffic arrangements for the rally.

The 2009 Lok Sabha polls had seen the Shiv Sena-BJP saffron alliance with just 20 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in state. The alliance now wants to increase its tally riding on Modi’s perceived image to come to power at the Centre.

Apart from inviting tea vendors for the rally at Bandra-Kurla Complex (Modi sold tea before entering politics), the BJP has roped in the ‘Modi Yuva Shakti’ group to reach out to college students. To whitewash Modi’s hardline Hindutva image, leaders are trying to ensure a sizeable minority presence. “This rally will have people from across the state instead of only those from Mumbai, Pune and Thane,” said senior BJP leader and spokesperson Madhav Bhandari.

The party is roping in doctors, advocates, chartered accountants and professionals, and diplomats from consulates in Mumbai have been invited as well. “We are trying to reach out to key voters and opinion-makers,” added Bhandari. He said they expect seven to 10 members from the 75,000-odd electoral booth committees to attend the rally.

BJP Maharashtra in-charge Rajiv Pratap Rudy said they were preparing 5 lakh food packets and 10 lakh water bottles for attendees and added that 5 lakh e-mails and 1 crore text messages had been sent to invite people. “There is a wave for change across the country against corruption, inflation and bad governance,” he said.

Party Mumbai chief Ashish Shelar said they had registered around 850 non-party volunteers online for the rally. BJP Mumbai secretary Vivekanand Gupta said they had deployed raths in the six districts of Mumbai and were organising street plays to mobilise people.

“We are concentrating on the youth through social media,” said party functionary Medha Somaiya, adding that video clips of Modi were also being circulated through WhatsApp and social media.

She said the social media cell will have a separate enclosure to seat around 25,000 and people were being segregated according to their pin codes for pick-up facilities.

“Till now, no one has used social media so effectively for a rally,” she said.

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