How Will social media be a game changer for Indian politics Loksabha elections 2014?

Even as social media facilitate direct communication between a sender and receiver, it has been used less for the purpose and more for showing maximum number of followers: fake or genuine.
True that social media plays important role in political campaigns, but it doesn’t and it cannot guarantee transforming the same into turnout on polling day; same what used to be the case with election rallies.
Notwithstanding, it will have its effects since urban youth and middle class heavily rely on social media sites including
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google etc for debate, sharing their thoughts and following political parties and politicians for latest update in political circles. They may or may not agree with tweets, or Facebook posts, but for sure they form an opinion on every issue.
Moreover, a recent report released by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and IRIS Knowledge Foundation has revealed that of India’s 543 constituencies, 160 can be termed as ‘high impact’ — that is, they will most likely be influenced by social media in the next general elections. As the report explains, high impact constituencies are those where the numbers of Facebook users are more than the margin of victory of the winner in the last Lok Sabha election, or where Facebook users account for over 10% of the voting population. The study then goes onto declare 67 constituencies as medium-impact, 60 as low-impact and 256 as no-impact constituencies.In 67 other ‘medium-impact constituencies’, Facebook users comprise over 5 per cent of voters. Politicians here, the study says, ‘cannot afford to ignore social media.’

The study certainly seems to echo the general euphoria over social networking as a political tool. However, the number of Facebook users might not translate into any change in voting patterns -– Though high in numbers, 7.8 crore Facebookians and 2 crore Twitteratis make up only 8.5 % of the total Indian population, which means 90 or more percent of Indian voters will vote along more traditional lines such as their religious, political and caste affiliations. Ratnakar Kumar has this to say on this vast divide between the internet haves and the have not, “As you know the number of people active on social networking sites is small when compared to a vast majority of non-internet Indian electorates. However, a socially committed and politically aware 98 million in itself is a huge force to reckon with, especially when the voting turn-out in Indian politics is not always high, 98 million can play a major role.”

The above-mentioned observation has some beef in it, however, what one doesn’t know is how many of these active social networking soldiers are also eligible voters. This fact alone will decide whether social media will play a major role in the general elections 2014 or not. Plus we also need to wait for the next few months as they are crucial since all political parties have gone into the overdrive of pouring millions to revamp their fortunes by trying to attract the voters through social networking.

Right now, there is a small but very active Twitter base in India that is highly political and there are constant fights between the right-wingers and the rest, which can be read as BJP-Congress fights. Major political episodes in the country become trending topics and both sides are able to make TV news headlines quite regularly. However, at this point it would be safe to assume that most middle class Indians experience political activity on Twitter through news reports on TV than actually by engaging with the medium themselves.

Even the politicians who have invested in social media are quite realistic about what it can do for them. Many of them, including Shashi Tharoor and Orissa-based politician Jay Panda admit that people from their own constituency are not following them on Twitter. Therefore, while they can reach a large number of people through the medium, as yet, they cannot swing an election based on social media.

But all these analyses would be futile if urban India doesn’t vote!!!Please check out this link Elections 2009 – Urban India Voter Turnout – Appalling!

Will social media be a game changer for Indian politics?
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I  don’t think social media will impact a lot in coming elections because in India ‘paid news media’ performing its job very well and they still have more impact than any of the social media since most of the rural people have access to news media only.

On  social media, people other than the ‘so called educated’ follow herd and go  with the flow only (more specifically don’t use their mind). There are still 8 more months to go before the elections.
Indian People really have very short memory

Most of the ‘so called educated’ either don’t go for the voting to their native place or don’t have voter Id card, for example you can go for survey in any of the IITs and you’ll find most of the chunk don’t have voter Id card. (sorry, I also don’t have voter Id card but I have already applied for the same)

So I think, surveys are misguiding and social media will affect result but not to very good extend.

I agree with the above folks. Social media will have not great impact on the election unless and until the movement goes to touch the roots and substantially influence the rural people as well. But, to be honest most of the rural people are least concerned about who comes and goes into power although they keep having an everyday discussion about the politics. To them, whoever pays bucks and woos with big promises on waiving crop loans, offers freebies will be the person. The reason why I write this is, I personally came across such talks in my in laws village. Most of them are educated (older generation upto X and younger gen is out of country) and well to do families. Still they claim for waiving crop loans, taking free rice, grains, n other free offers from the government without any guilt. And vote for the person of their caste or one who has spent the most. The guy from a scheduled caste who has worked meticulously for the welfare of the village (said by the locals) was defeated because he had no money. All the so called upper class of the village agree to this but never wanted him to be their representative. Those from the lower economic background follow the herd because they hardly understand the political agendas, all they need is will they be given their share of freebies or not. I think this is the situation in most of the rural areas in the country. No matter how big a buzz we make on the social media, that may not impact the rural people in a greater way. The best thing social media could do is influence the youth in a bigger and better way

I really doubt it being a game changer. In a country of Billions where about 80% of the population still reside in the rural areas where social media has not yet arrived with all its pomp and show, its hard to say the amount of importance that will be given to it by the parties themselves. Time and again, we see that the issues that win elections still involve providing food at lower prices, building roads, providing electricity, we are really far from social media playing any role in the outcome.

Well like Deepali Rath has said here- What choice do we have? My answer is ALOT! I think it’s time we leave this Cong Vs BJP debate. This is not America with a two party system- we have a wider choice. I also think Independants can make a difference this elections which is why I’ve created an app for txtWeb’s election contest that lets people learn more about independant candidates across the country