Anatomy of a virtual rally — How the BJP is reaching the electorate amid Covid-19

Union Home Minister Amit Shah addresses a virtual rally Tuesday
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Union Home Minister Amit Shah | Photo: ANI

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New Delhi: Posters and billboards, it appears, are passé in the post-Covid political world.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been conducting ‘virtual rallies’ since 7 June to connect with the people and highlight the Modi government’s work, has been relying on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to aggressively push its political messaging.

But how exactly are these virtual rallies being conducted? ThePrint spoke to a number of state unit functionaries of the BJP to understand the process.

Local state units play a vital role

Once it is decided that a virtual rally has to be conducted in a state, the BJP unit of that particular state asks the block, district and state units to use their Facebook and Twitter accounts to publicise it. Everybody from the councillors, MLAs, MPs, party supporters and workers are involved in the process.

A BJP leader said that before the virtual rally is conducted, cameras are set up and a stage is built from where the leaders can address the rally.

At the same time, a stage is also set at the headquarters of the state and there too a few leaders share the stage while maintaining a physical distance. A few party workers are also allowed to join the leaders and a separate seating arrangement (in front of the stage) is put in place for them.

“During the physical rally before the main speaker, a number of leaders used to address the crowd. One of the main differences between the physical and virtual rally is that we have to keep such speeches short and only allow 2-4 people to address the rally before the main speaker. As it is digital, people can get bored very easily so this is crucial,” said a second BJP leader.

“In Delhi, for instance, there are 280 blocks and we ask each and every block to publicise it. Similarly, councillors, MLAs and MPs are told to put up the information on their personal handles also along with the link of the rally which would be used on the day of the rally,” . This exercise is conducted at least four days before the rally,” said a senior BJP functionary. “They are also told to inform their followers that through FB live and on Twitter they will stream the rally live.”

Senior BJP leaders and Union ministers, including Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, and Nitin Gadkari, have already addressed a number of rallies and many more are in the offing.

Also read: The 5 key takeaways from virtual rallies by Amit Shah, Gadkari, Rajnath and Smriti Irani

Youtube, Twitter and LED screens

Apart from the BJP website, the rally is streamed live on the party’s YouTube channel, Twitter and Facebook account too. “At times many news channels and websites also carry out live telecasts depending on who is addressing the rally this also becomes a medium to reach out to more people,” said the second leader.

Following this, some key points are also identified by the state units where smart television screens are put up for people to watch.

“All the councillors, MLAs, MPs are told that on their Twitter and FB they use a live telecast for which the link is created and provided by the state unit,” said another party functionary. “At points where television screens are put up by the party functionary, it is through screen mirroring the link prepared by the state unit is used to run a live stream on the smart LED television. The sets are usually taken on rent.”

In every district, a few people are identified and tasked with keeping track of all activities leading to the virtual rally. “IT conveners or sanyojaks were also appointed by state units who not only provided the tech know-how but at the same time in rural areas where connectivity is a major challenge they help telecast it on television screens,” said another official.

A small stage is erected in the party offices where the virtual rally takes place and some of the main leaders and party functionaries sit there while maintaining social distancing.

Due to the changed scenario due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was decided by the party that it should connect virtually with the people as well as party workers. According to a senior BJP leader, national secretaries Tarun Chugh and Satya Kumar are in-charge of executing these virtual rallies.

Also read: The BJP should dump Nitish Kumar in Bihar, sooner the better


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