Parties such as Makkal Needhi Maiam and Bharatiya Janata Party used recorded phone messages from leaders like Kamal Haasan and Vanathi Srinivasan seeking votes, while the AIADMK and DMK send out videos of MLAs informing residents of the ward numbers and their candidates.
Big parties said they had been using the technology for more than eight years through several elections and knew how to reach the voter. Some use phones and some need to be met. The realization that the reach-out through social media cannot be through Twitter or Instagram as it should be personal has prompted AIADMK and DMK to form street-level WhatsApp groups reminding voters of candidate names. Singai Ramachandran, secretary of the AIADMK’s IT wing (west zone) said smaller parties used macro level methods using social media handles in order to get votes. “We are targeting voters at the ward and street level. We know that in a booth, only 1,000 family votes matter for the win and we will only reach out to them. The IT wing isn’t just about social media. It is about data, analytics and numbers,” he said.
In Tambaram corporation limits on Friday, cadres of a party were found distributing applications to a ‘government scheme’ they said would give 1,000 aid for women family members though the government has not issued an order for any such initiative or allocated funds.
Videos shared by residents in Tambaram showed several people, appearing to be from DMK, circulating the applications forms and urging people to vote for the party. “If you vote for us, you will get it,” one said.
When a resident asked why the distribution was being done only now, the reply was that the scheme was to be implemented now. The residents said the forms were circulated in wards 16, 17, 23 and 24.
Civic activist David Manohar, who flagged the issue, said, “They are falsely implying that people will get the cash only if they vote for the party.”