The spread of Covid-19 and mandatory social distancing has changed the interaction methods of political parties too. Public meetings have been replaced by video and audio conferencing or communication through social media. With all outdoor activities cancelled, parties are using technology to run basic and urgent business.
As the ‘most-tech savvy party’, BJP has been tapping technology for long. Its usage, however, increased manifold during the lockdown. “We are doing seven to nine video and audio conferencing,” BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya told ET. “We have an able worker network mapped out till booth level and connect with everyone from top to bottom, using whichever medium we want,” he said.
BJP president JP Nadda has been regularly having video conferencing with party leaders and workers across the country to pass on important information. There are three main agenda on which the communication has been taking place in BJP. First is to deliver food, grain and medicines across the country through co-ordination between BJP workers and the central office.
The second is looking after issues of migrant workers in every district through a taskforce of party workers.
The party has also been working on convincing people to donate to PM CARES.
“Most of the video conferencing and audio conferencing takes place over Internet and we are platform agnostic” Malviya adds. The party uses Zoom, Skype or any other tool, depending on the nature of the meeting. “In our meetings, people can participate either via phones, iPads, laptop or desktop as we make it convenient for everyone.”
BJP general secretary Arun Singh said video conferences keep him busy throughout the day. “At 7 pm, the party president holds a e-meeting of all national office-bearers where we discuss the progress of work of the day,” Singh told ET.
Congress has made use of video app Zoom. “It is working very well for us,” Congress communication department secretary Pranav Jha told ET. From their daily meetings to even press conferences, Congress has shifted everything to video conferencing. “Except video quality at times, we have no other issues and even TV channels are using our conference feeds now.”
On April 2, the Congress Working Committee will videoconference and all CWC members are expected to join from their respective residences.
On March 28, Congress organisation general secretary KC Venugopal had held a videoconference of all general secretaries though.
Other parties too are using technology to conduct work. “We are using mobile phones, reaching out on social media to track migrant workers who are in touch with us,” Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien told ET. “Yesterday, the Chief Minister of Bengal conducted a 90-minute videoconference with DMs and health officials of all districts.”
Shiv Sena deputy leader Priyanka Chaturvedi said that apart from videoconferencing, the party uses WhatsApp and social media the most. “We have a strong grassroots network of WhatsApp and are currently using it to offer relief and resolve issues of people during the lockdown,” she told ET.