From poster boys to glam girls

An 8,000 square feet facility in a multistoried building in Kottayam municipality has been buzzing with activity ever since various political parties declared their candidates for the local body polls. It provides one-stop campaigning solutions for candidates and political parties. The candidates can walk in here and come out in three hours with all they need for poll campaigning. Besides taking the photographs of the candidates and printing masks and banners with party symbols on them, the centre also provides facility to make short videos and design posters and posts for the social media.

“As social restrictions and distancing are in place due to the pandemic, the thrust has been on digital tactics,” says Ashith partner of Penta Offset. Till now, up to 150 candidates have approached us, he says.

Social media was not so hot during the last local body polls. Now, the political parties have been focussing on releasing posts and posters on digital platforms in a big way rather than relying only on traditional canvassing.

Curiously, social media seems to have increased candidate visibility as well, and naturally, it has given thrust to the glamour quotient of the candidates. Even fake photos of candidates began to be circulated and in some cases, their photographs were lifted from Facebook pages prompting police to step in to curtail such activities.

Advocate Vibitha Babu, a 34-year-old candidate from Mallappally in Pathanamthitta district was among the candidates whose photographs became viral on social media. After realising that some of her photographs were lifted from her Facebook page she had to change the privacy settings.

But can good looks help win elections? No, says advocate Raji P Joy, an LDF candidate contesting from a panchayat ward in Kottayam. The voters look at the candidates’ social commitment and their track record in social services, she says. “It is up to the personal choice of candidates whether they put up their glamorous photos or not,” says Raji who is a former member of the district child welfare committee.

CPM’s digital campaigning in Bedadka panchayat in Kasaragod seems to have carved a space for itself by debunking the concept of ‘ideal looking’ for reallife images set in rural settings to attract the voters. The posters released on the social media which celebrate simple rural life have been making a buzz.

The thrust on digital campaigns have also raised the demand for video editors. Most of them who were jobless during the lockdown are now busy making short videos ranging from 30 seconds to one minute of candidates which are posted in various social media platforms.

Tom Korah, state general secretary of Youth Congress who is contesting from ward number 24 in Kottayam municipality says the new modes of campaigning are not only convenient but are turning out to be popular with youths. “The way we communicate with the voters has changed. It is easier to reach out to young voters with social media posts,” he says.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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