Everyday political parties are changing their political strategies to counter their opponents either what medium to use for election campaigning or issues that can harness as much political support in their favour. Political pundits and all surveys indicate that NDA has a slight margin over Mahagathbandhan. But, the crowds turned towards Tejeswai Yadav during his rallies that made every political party change their strategies to counter the surge of popularity through social media. BJP and JDU invested much more in comparison to RJD, if we took such a stroke in sense of investment on social media for political gain, that is inevitable in the past few elections in the country. RJD did not invest much on social media because they thought that their voters are not on social media rather than rural backgrounds. In fact, RJD is lacking from NDA across social media platforms, no one compromised from social media because it is handy and swinging the moods momentarily in most cases unlike Helicopters, it can pull crowds but not votes.
Political rallies serve as one of the mediums to inform people about political issues and are considered a medium wherein people and leaders have direct links with each other and allow the space to discuss issues in close interaction. During elections, politicians use various methods to lure voters and to convey his/her political message and political parties often describe political manifestos in detail. The political manifesto is considered a political activity and politicians prepare it before the election. Social media is unlike the medium to reach voters. Politicians are promising to give the Govt. job than creating job avenues became a contentious issue between political parties.
The political rallies are also considered important public gatherings where political parties are supposed to address political discourses. Political rallies are often known for two things; a Helicopter and a Bollywood (Nowadays demand of Bollywood actor/actress is weakened due to several rational including social media and OTT media that made viewers to visualize them there) celebrity at the venue. However, politicians astutely use both these components (Helicopter and Bollywood celebrity) to gather and inform people near the rally venue about the discussions also gear up around the village Chaupal-Chabutra, Dhaba, Saloon and other such public spaces where people usually discuss the political calculations and share leaders who are attending the rally. Apart from political rallies, political discussions cum advertisements are inevitable across social media primarily on WhatsApp and Facebook.
Bihar Assembly election campaigning 2020 became enthusiastic in sense of political coverage when media made such coverage are often visualized where both Helicopter and leaders became centre of attraction in the crowds. Both rural and urban people conceived Helicopters and Bollywood celebrities in the same fold of attention. The visualization of a Helicopter amongst rural people is quite fascinating and therefore people generally arrive at the rally venue to see the Helicopter from a close proximity and experience the sand blowing around the venue during landing and take-off. Bollywood celebrities similarly are also found fascinating and some people travel a long distance to catch a glimpse of the film stars. Political leaders have learnt the mindset of the people and try to bring both a Helicopter and a Bollywood celebrity at least once in their constituency to ensure huge crowds at the venue. Those political rallies are pulling more crowds where star campaigners are arriving through Helicopter. Crowds gathered to see the Helicopter nearby despite it becoming dirt due to swirling winds. Indeed, helicopters can pull crowds but not vote on following rationale. First, there is no mechanism devised so far to access the number of voters in a gathered crowd, rather a prediction can be drawn that the maximum is going to support those who are participating in the rallies. Second, some proportion of crowds went to see the celebrity or star campaigner nearby to listen to them without being convinced in the rallies. Third, Few in the crowds arrived to see Helicopter in both take-off and landing. In all such circumstances, one cannot count the crowds as voters rather than participants who participated for mundane reasons not exclusively for political support rather to see the venue or crowds or Helicopter or celebrity or star campaigner.
People come to see these elements rather than listen to the political discussion or discourse. Leaders also use some other methods to attract people during election apart from this. Bihar Assembly election 2020 reminds the age old set pattern of political campaigns when Helicopters used astutely to pull more crowd for political purpose. According to a rough estimation, around 20 helicopters from private firms have been stationed at Patna airport or other locations to ferry star campaigners during election campaigns. Most of these helicopters came from Delhi-Mumbai based aviation firms. The average cost of each helicopter is Rs of 2 lakh per flying hour, and star campaigners are flying 3-4 hours every day to address rallies. Of course, Helicopters are used to save time and cover as much as an election rally. Where there is Helicopter there are crowds but there is no guarantee that crowds turn into votes.
It is early to predict which way voters are going to swing but for a moment rather voters pushed politicians to change their strategies to reach voters in line of caste, class and religion that works as all season masterstroke.
Dr Shekh Moinuddin: He is associated with Jamia Millia Islamia and author of four books Media Space and Gender Construction (2010), Mapping Media (2015), Mediascape and the State (2017) and The Political Twittersphere in India (2019).