In Digital Battle Over Virtual Rally, TMC Trumps Shah, BJP IT Cell

In the battle of hashtags started by Amit Shah’s virtual rally in Bengal, the TMC seems to have come out on top.

Updated09 Jun 2020, 03:34 PM IST
3 min read

A digital battle ensued over virtual rallies between the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as Home Minister Amit Shah addressed his second virtual, "Jam Samvad" rally from the BJP Headquarters in Delhi. After Bihar, this virtual address was held for the next poll-bound state, West Bengal.

For the Trinamool, however, this seemed to be a test of how ready they are to fight the 2021 poll battle digitally. In other words, can the Trinamool Congress take on the BJP IT Cell?

And what better way to decide who reigns supreme than to have an old-school battle of hashtags.

TMC Hashtag Out-Trends BJP

The hashtags started taking over Kolkata Twitter as soon as Shah started speaking, with the BJP floating #BanglarJanSamabesh, while the Trinamool went in with #BengalRejectsAmitShah.

After a day of playing catch up with each other, 4 pm onwards on Tuesday, #BengalRejectsAmitShah maintained a steady position at the top of the Kolkata trending list on Twitter.

Meanwhile, #BanglarJanSamabesh, after an initial stint at number 1, and then at number 2, dropped off the list by the end of the day.

This came as a surprise to many, given some key parameters in which Trinamool trumped BJP.

In terms of pure numbers, the Trinamool hashtag was tweeted about 85,000 times as of 7 pm. In comparison, the BJP hashtag was tweeted about 35,000 times at 6:30pm, before it fell off the top 50 on the trending list.

This, in spite of the BJP roping in more "influencers" on the social media platform.

An analysis on Twitter shows that over 40 verified accounts tweeted and retweeted the BJP hashtag, while only about 14 verified accounts were used by the Trinamool Congress.

China, Pandemic, Vidyasagar: Trinamool Launches Multi-Pronged Attack

Since the beginning of Shah's speech, as he trained his guns on Mamata on issues like return of migrants, CAA and political violence, Trinamool leaders took to social media to launch a targetted counter-attack.

Mamata's nephew, and Trinamool's number 2, Abhishek Banerjee, asked when the Chinese are exiting Indian territory as Shah spoke about Mamata exiting Bengal.

The party also brought up the vandalisation of a bust of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar in a Kolkata college during Shah's rally in the city during the Lok Sabha elections last year.

Other leaders questioned the need to "splurge" on a virtual rally in the midst of a pandemic, as Shah claimed that over 70,000 LED screens were set up across the state to broadcast his address.

While the BJP claimed that it was aiming to reach one crore of Bengal's citizens through the "rally", social media numbers for the live streams on Facebook and Youtube tell otherwise.

At the time of printing this article, the YouTube stream of the address had only 29,000 views. At a certain point in the middle of Shah's speech, The Quint also noticed the "live viewers" to be hovering around 9,000.

The Facebook stream did better in terms of numbers with over 20 lakh views. Still way short of a crore though.

In the times of COVID-19 and with an election coming up, the digital battle will only intensify in the times to come. In this specific battle, though, TMC can claim to have done what many struggle with – muzzling the BJP IT Cell.

We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated.

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Published: 09 Jun 2020, 03:26 PM IST

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