KATHMANDU, Dec 3: The election campaign was a proof to show the extent leaders went to lure voters. From milking a cow to bowing down on a woman’s feet, candidates applied everything at their disposal.
A CPN-UML candidate milked a cow wearing suit, another one from the Rashtriya Janta Party Nepal’s (RJPN) reached to a woman’s feet and went to farms to meet voters; pictures that have become viral in the social media. Other candidates went to cut paddy, lift mustard and plough fields with voters.
These are only representatives of the many candidates who competed in the first phase polls of Nov 26. For the second phase, candidates are using new ideas; daily door-to-door campaigns, morning walks and sharing videos on social media.
Bibeksheel Sajha Party leads the social media usage to campaign for its election. The party has developed videos with voter’s excerpts and is sharing them on social media for wider reach and influence.
Social media is one of the effective ways to interact with voters on a daily basis with minimal expenses, Surya Raj Acharya, spokesperson and candidate from Constituency-2, Kathmandu for Bibeksheel Sajha Party said.
“Youths are larely into social media so we rely in it as our primary election tool,” he said adding that the platform also served to connect youths that are away from the country.
Through increasing social media usage, when party candidates go door-to-door to seek for votes, they are often replied by jubilant people who narrate how their children from Australia and elsewhere had asked to vote the ‘Taraju’.
Kishor Nepal, a senior journalist opined that the party’s use of social media was heavy because “individually, candidates have come from the social media generation.”
Other political parties followed suit-making Facebook pages, sharing photographs, video and texts. They also have paid social media sites for sponsored advertisements to ensure that their messages reach an even wider audience.
With the emergence of social media, election campaigns have changed drastically.Earlier, political parties would stick posters and paint concrete walls. Now, they flood digital walls of social media.
The Maoist (center) is also increasing its digital presence, Surendra Basnet, publicity committee member of the party said adding that the party was also relying on other media; advertisements on radio, television and online news portals.
“However, in the previous election, we used wall painting and wall posters,” Basnet said.
In the past, candidates reached voters through speeches and mass gatherings. However, this time, they are reaching through social media. Apart from the Left Alliance, no other party has come up with mass election program in the country’s capital or elsewhere.
Nepali Congress uses a combination of social media and radio networks to campaign for the elections. “We rely on social media and online news portals to reach urban voters, radio to reach in remote areas,” Ajaya Babu Siwakoti, the party’s publicity member said.
(Report by Bipin Shreesh for Radio Nagarik program “Election Watch”.)