April 20, 2014

The Walled Gardens of BJP Propaganda


Ever since this 56-inch Vikas Purush has been chosen as the prime ministerial candidate of the right wing communal party, there has been a very strong and coordinated overpowering of the social media and social networking outlets with the NaMo's "manufactured growth." This started with the Gujarat government hiring the APCO for an image makeover for this "Vikas Purush." It is estimated that the Gujarat government is paying the APCO a sum of 25,000 dollars per month for this makeover. But the APCO is a lobbying firm which has pro-war lobbying efforts, and conservative pro-Zionist lobbying to its credentials, and has defended the very firms that were responsible for the global financial crisis of 2008 whose ramifications are being faced to date by the working masses throughout the globe. Another side to this effort to create such walled gardens of "development" is a group called "Centre for Accountable Governance" (CAG) --- a 250-strong team who do the content creation work for Modi. Apart form this, he has a research team to write the speeches for him for all the rallies. In spite of all this, there are often these slip-ups that Modi commits; for example calling Mahatma Gandhi as "Mohanlal Karamchand Gandhi," mixing up Shyamji Krishna Verma with Shyama Prasad Mookherjee, or saying that Takshashila is in Bihar. The CAG organises initiatives like Chai pe Charcha, Run for Unity, Statue of Unity, Manthan etc. These platforms are used as a means to gather the volunteers across the nation. We have come across cases where people are called up and told that they will be paid money to work for campaigning for the BJP on social media. All these efforts primarily focus on 155 constituencies ("digital" seats, as they put it), which they think can be won on the strength of their online propaganda. Each seat has supposedly got at least 5000 "modifiers" for the intensive campaign. This is combined with the IT cell that this party has in New Delhi which continuously spreads the propaganda, using its own internet channel, and his army of volunteers propagate it across various social media platforms. Hitler believed in the power of propaganda. Modi certainly believes in this paradigm. And just like Hitler had had Goebbels as his minister of propaganda in Nazi Germany, in the same way Modi has got Amit Shah as his political chief of staff who does the strategic planning in the backdrop of these elections and occasionally spews venom in the form of calls for revenge and communal violence. The massive following on Twitter that this gentleman boasts of, being "tech-savvy" as he puts it, can also be attributed to this PR stunt that he is trying to pull off. If you take a closer look, using any twitter analytic tool available, you can conclude that more than half of his followers are fake accounts. (Fake account analytic tools like SocialBakers and StatusPeople point out that more than 50 percent followers of Narendra Modi on twitter are fake accounts.) There exists a huge underground market for fake twitter accounts, wherein a fake twitter account cost just 0.04 dollars and a fake Facebook account can cost anywhere between 0.45 to 1.50 dollars. The major use of these fake accounts is to boost the number of followers. When there is huge underground market for your number of followers, it is not hard to conclude that it’s a part of the effort they are making to sell this image of development, by surrounding you with all this hype. Today web services like Google, Twitter, Facebook are an integral part of our daily lives, and what the BJP’s campaign has done this time is to abuse these very platforms to spread the myth of development. A hype created by the sheer play of money power, and one needn't get into the details of who might be funding it when one sees this Purush flying around in Adani's corporate jets. Part of many fraudulent activities going on, on social networking sites is something called BOTS which tweet/post of their own accord. They are programmed to automate a certain kind of behaviour. And these bots are in use this time on twitter for countering any dissent that comes up on twitter against Modi. The doctored images floating all around on social networks, talking about how developed Gujarat is, are not a rare sight. One would like to ask this: If Gujarat is so "Gujarated" (this word is supposed to be synonymous with development these days), then why exactly are you selling this image of Gujarat so hard, by doctoring photographs, spreading lies, hijacking history and twisting it according to your whims? All that this propaganda has done is to create a brand called Modi which can be marketed for electoral gains. The cult image of Modi that has been created through paid promotions in social media and the way we are buying it with all this fanfare, without any rational questioning, is exactly what this whole PR exercise and this social media campaign is out to do. All this evidence points to what game money power has played for campaigning in social media during these elections. These efforts are meant to overpower the people's imagination with this hunky and dory image of Gujarat, while taking the focus away from the real social issues that plague the state of Gujarat as well as this nation at large. Somebody wise once told that information technology is a two-edged sword; it can be used for the good of people or as a tool against the people. This gross misuse of IT by Modi and his brigade, in their lust for power, is certainly an exercise against the people. Mat karo logon ka jeena dushwar Nahi chahiye hamein Modi sarkar! (Don’t make the life of the people difficult; we don’t want a Modi government.)