Srinagar: Even as political parties in Jammu and Kashmir have hit the turf once again for campaigning, the way social media is helping the political leaders to express themselves, is perhaps a first such experience witnessed in J&K’s political space. Welcome to politics in the age of social media.
While political leaders including former Chief Minister’s have tried to be among the common people with robust energy in the last few weeks, poignant passion has marked the social media presence of the leaders.
If the quintessential social media savvy former Chief Minister and National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah is known for his presence on micro blogging site Twitter, the way the junior Abdullah has seen competitors on the cyberspace is a cult in politics this region is witnessing.
While Omar's Twitter handle is a varied mix of Tweets ranging from political, day-to-day life, culture and sports, several other politicians of Jammu and Kashmir mean business when it comes to their presence on social media.
The likes of People’s Conference president Sajad Lone always kept netizens in Kashmir guessing on what next from him. Lone’s presence on Twitter varies from personal anecdotes to Tweets with a philosophical touch.
However, the Twitter handle of the PC president is also often abuzz with more pointed Tweets, based on his take on Kashmir situation and politics. Lone has been quick to respond to incidents such as civilian killings on Twitter and condemn them outrightly. Besides, nostalgic Tweets about his late father vis-a-vis the current political scenario is what Lone’s followers often find on their Twitter timeline.
Former Chief Minister and People’s Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti’s Twitter handle was being handled by her daughter Iltija, while Mehooba was under detention. The Twitter handle has throughout remained abuzz and created even more flutter after the release of Mehbooba Mufti last year. When it comes to social media, Mehbooba, like her political persona, is often aggressive with what she writes on Twitter and Facebook.
It may be mentioned that on the night of her release from detention in October last year, Mehbooba had posted a voice message on social media platforms, which got widely circulated. Like their party chief, PDP’s social media handle especially Twitter is always abuzz with re-tweets, mostly that of news stories and events pertaining to media and the Kashmir situation.
Like PDP, all other political parties are pro-actively utilising the social media space for the outreach. The rise of social media has turned almost every politician technology-savvy. The presence of Apni Party president Syed Altaf Bukhari is usually felt on Facebook, with his posts regarding party activities and of his day to day engagements concerning politics.
Similarly, Srinagar Mayor and Apni Party leader Junaid Azim Mattu has over the years used social media in a fluid manner. While on one hand Mattu’s Tweets and Facebook posts highlights developmental issues of summer capital Srinagar and political issues, the youth leader of the Apni Party has of late stuck his neck out and Tweeted on sensitive topics around the prevailing situation in Kashmir.
The cyber space in terms of J&K’s politics is a canvas dotted by interesting hues. From young voices to veteran politicians, you name it and the “Kashmir political Twitter” has it.
Not just forming opinions and creating a narrative, the social media in today’s day and age of J&K politics is even proving to be a deciding factor of political loyalties and inclinations. Like Kashmir’s buzzing social media space with political voices, Jammu is not far behind.
From the likes of BJP leader Devender Singh Rana to the rest of the leadership of the saffron party is active on social media.
Rana’s Tweets along with photos posted are also a sneak peek into his public life. While the former legislator focuses on youth empowerment, sports, art and culture in his Tweets, the BJP leader has largely kept his social media presence away from controversies.
Amid the political hullabaloo on social media, the most intriguing aspect for mass consumption has been the way political leaders have been getting into a war of words on social media. Irrespective of how much of a weightage political pundits would give the social media image of a politician in terms of the impact it has to garner public support, time only will tell whether being robust on the keyboard for politicians is as effective as being physically among the common people.