To unleash cyber power in the run-up to the crucial 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh will create almost 50,000 WhatsApp groups for communicating with the electorate.
Among all the major parties, BJP commands the strongest and well-entrenched cyber team to leverage the power of social and new media for electioneering and disseminating its ideology.
In the run-up to the 2017 UP polls, the party had created about 15,000 WhatsApp groups to reach out to the masses and propagate its election messages. Most of these WhatsApp groups are still active and the party plans to create more groups at the grassroots to ramp up the total number of WhatsApp platforms to 50,000 before the poll bugle is sounded.
A senior BJP leader, on the condition of anonymity, said the party targets to penetrate to the lowest denomination for interacting with the people like it did during the 2014 polls. "We would communicate about our achievements during the last four years, including Modicare, farm loan waiver, crop insurance, etc."
BJP has established a well-oiled IT team at almost 163,000 poll booths in UP. It claims a massive network of almost 0.8 million IT cell members, apart from 20 million people connected to its varied social media platforms.
The UP BJP official Twitter handle and Facebook page have about a million and 3.5 million followers, respectively.
Besides, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's personal Twitter handle has about 3 million followers, while UP Chief Minister's Office (CMO) and UP government's official Twitter handles have about 2.5 million and 713,000 followers, respectively.
Addressing an IT cell meeting in Lucknow recently, UP Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma had advised party cadres to use restrained language while countering opposition parties and listing the BJP government's achievements over social media.
In July 2018, BJP National President Amit Shah had addressed a mega IT wing workshop in Varanasi, where he had termed the party's social media volunteers as 'cyber warriors' and exhorted them to spread like wildfire through the length and breadth of the country to ensure the saffron outfit's victory in the 2019 polls.
He had also asked cyber volunteers to employ creativity to vanquish the Opposition's narratives and counter the alleged canards being spread about the BJP and its biggest mascot, Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
UP accounts for the largest number of Lok Sabha seats (80) and understandably holds the key to the Delhi throne. In 2014, BJP had won 71 seats, while its ally Apna Dal had scooped another two -- making it 73 of the 80 seats for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the state. The unprecedented win in UP was one of the major factors for the BJP to get a majority, thus paving the way for Modi to become PM.