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Madhya Pradesh: BJP’s ‘cyber warriors’, Congress’ ‘Rajiv Ke Sipahi’ set for duel in digital space ahead of real poll battle

Nearly 65,000 'cyber warriors' of the BJP are preparing to take on 'Rajiv Ke Sipahi' of the Congress in cyber space in a bid to woo young voters on social media platforms.

The forthcoming Madhya Pradesh assembly election is set to witness a high-octane campaign between the BJP and Congress not only in cities and villages but also on social media. Nearly 65,000 ‘cyber warriors’ of the BJP are preparing to take on ‘Rajiv Ke Sipahi’ of the Congress in cyber space in a bid to woo young voters on social media platforms.

The BJP’s state information technology (IT) cell in-charge, Shivraj Singh Dabi, announced that about 65,000 ‘cyber warriors’ have been deployed by the party in the last three months and 5,000 more will be deputed shortly.

On the other hand, the state Congress has set up a team of around 4,000 ‘Rajiv Ke Sipahi’ (named after their leader and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi) to battle it out against the BJP on social media. The grand old party will train 5,000 more people for the task, the state party’s IT cell in-charge, Dharmendra Bajpai, said. “We are going to hold training sessions in the state’s revenue divisions from June 25,” he said.

Laying out the plan, both the leaders emphasised that they were going to reach out to people on popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter with a special focus on WhatsApp owing to its wide reach. “During elections, our biggest weapon is going to be WhatsApp,” Bajpai said.

Shedding light on the BJP’s strategy, Dabi said, “We are going to be doubly active on WhatsApp as it’s the biggest communication tool, specially to reach out to commoners and villagers.” He said the party used social media to counter the Congress’ 10-day Gaon bandh during the farmers’ agitation in MP from June 1 to June 10.

Claiming that the BJP was able to thwart the Congress’ bid to capitalise on the farmers’ agitation, Dabri said the BJP’s IT cell highlighted the central and state governments’ welfare schemes for farmers during the agitation.

In contrast, Bajpai said their ‘Rahul with farmers’ hash-tag on Twitter was a “huge success”. It was trending for 23 hours on Twitter when Congress chief Rahul Gandhi visited MP Mandsaur district and addressed a farmers’ rally on June 6, he said.

According to a BJP leader, party president Amit Shah, during his visit to Jabalpur in MP on June 12, held a meeting with ‘cyber warriors’ and discussed with them on how to take on the Congress in the social media space.