Digital space offers new ground for campaigns to cover
Publish- December 14, 2018, 12:45 PM
AKM Moinuddin - UNB Staff Writer
Dhaka, Dec 14 (UNB) -The pre-election campaign has brought vibrancy in every corner of the country with debates over tea in tea stalls -- both in urban settings and in remote villages. A festive mood is prevailing, though there is a fear of violence.
But in this age of digitalisation, candidates cannot avoid election campaign through digital platforms and voters are also curious to follow what is happening on social media platforms.
From new to heavyweight candidates contesting in the upcoming national election scheduled for December 30, all political campaigns are seen to have a digital presence these days.
“What’s happening on the ground is traditional one having huge impact on voters. But you cannot avoid digital campaign using social media platforms,” said political party worker Nazim Uddin Parvez, who is campaigning in favour of Shamsul Hoque Chowdhury, Awami League candidate from Chattogram-12 constituency.
Parvez finds it easy, less costly and one of the best ways to stay engaged with voters as many young voters spend much of their time on social media, a majority of them preferring Facebook.
It shows a good number of candidates representing various political parties, including Awami League, BNP, Jatiya Party and others remain active to capitalise on Facebook.
The supporters of the candidates are seen sharing live election campaign activities from the ground, pre-recorded speeches highlighting their various positive activities in their respective constituencies, digital posters and people’s voices in an effort to gain support from the voters.
For almost every candidate, a Facebook page (apart from their personal account) based on their public profile is the first step towards their ‘digital campaign’.
SM Jaglul Hayder, a Grand Alliance candidate, from Satkhira-4 constituency, shared several photos on his page from his election campaign. “You’ll get me beside you round the clock during your good and bad days,” he wrote to voters sharing a photo in which he holds up two paper boats.
Maj Gen (retd) Syed Muhammad Ibrahim Bir Protik, a candidate of the BNP-led 20-party alliance, shared a long post expressing his optimism about victory. “We’ll surely go for casting votes. We’ll surely remain present at the polling centers on the election day and we’ll surely return home with victory, InshaAllah.”
A Facebook page dedicated to AL heavyweight candidate from Dhaka-1 constituency Salman F Rahman and adviser to the Prime Minister, also shared digital posters and videos on people’s voice.
Salma Islam of Jatiya Party, a sitting MP from the seat, is also contesting the election for the constituency as an independent candidate after the AL-led grand alliance nominated Salman, a top businessman who with his brother founded Beximco Group. Salma is the wife of another top businessman Nurul Islam Babul, the owner of Jamuna Group.
Dedicated Facebook pages for Grand Alliance candidate and Social Welfare Minister Rashed Khan Menon; and BNP candidate Mirza Abbas in Dhaka-8 constituency are sharing their regular activities on their election campaigns.
Apart from campaign staff, ordinary supporters are also sharing election related-media such as songs and videos released by the respective campaigns, on behalf of their favoured party or candidates on social media, apart from playing those songs at election campaigns at the field level.
The verified Facebook page of Bangladesh Awami League was also found sharing videos depicting the progress made so far in the country under the party’s leadership and conveying the message, “We’re in favour of Bangladesh under the leadership of (Prime Minister) Sheikh Hasina.”
Inevitably, some candidates have come face-to-face with some of the pitfalls of the digital domain as well.
BNP-led alliance candidate and Bangladesh Jatiya Party Chairman Andaleeve Rahman Partho, a former MP and avid advocate of technology (he even petitioned to use EVMs at his constituency Dhaka-17), is also actively using Facebook for campaign purposes, and shared a video appealing to young voters on his verified Facebook page on December 11 that was well-appreciated and quite widely shared.
Today though, an update on his verified page said his personal Facebook account has been hacked. “….please be careful of any status given from that account.”