New Delhi: Two blogposts in three days—one on spirituality and the other on technology— have launched Lal Krishna Advani, the 81-year-old prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), into blogosphere, in the run up to general elections that have to be held before May.
In his first post, Advani said he had launched the blog after accepting “the compelling logic” of his “younger colleagues” who told him that “a political portal without a blog is like a letter without a signature”. The blog (blog.lkadvani.in) is part of a portal (lkadvani.in) created by the BJP.
“I am excited by the idea of using the Internet as a platform for political communication and, especially, for election campaign,” said Advani in his first post. Admitting that he was “technology-agnostic”, he said: “My philosophy in this matter is simple: anything that works, deserves to be welcomed.”
Blog entry: A screenshot of L.K. Advani’s blog.
Advani joins prominent political bloggers such as railway minister Lalu Prasad and Jammu and Kashmir’s new chief minister Omar Abdullah. While Abdullah stopped blogging after being heckled and abused by visitors, Prasad’s last post was on 25 July 2008. However, the railway minister had promised to restart blogging in his post on www.mypopkorn.com.
While more politicians haven’t started blogging, Advani’s motive could be to reach a different audience, said a blogger-entrepreneur. “I think what he (Advani) wants to do is to appeal to youngsters and give his thoughts directly to them,” said Rafat Ali, a Los Angeles-based blogger, who recently sold his Web publishing company to UK’s Guardian.
India has 49 million Internet users, according to a study by digital advertising and marketing firm Komli Media.
Most Internet users are young and reside in urban areas, and while the focus of political parties in past elections has been the rural population, the coming elections will see the cities have more representation in Parliament than they have ever had before (the number of representatives from urban areas is expected to rise to 100 from 70 in a 543-member House). And analysts say that at least 40% of the electorate in the coming elections is made up of first-time voters.
One of the people behind Advani’s blog said it is also an attempt to make readers (and voters) familiar and comfortable with him.
“In his capacity as the leader of Opposition (in the Lok Sabha) and the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, whatever he says tend to be official. But there’s a lot to a man more than his official designations. What a blog brings out is Advani as a person and as a human being. Nothing official about it,” said Pradyut Bora, convenor of the information technology cell of the BJP.
The party has taken out advertisements on Google to push traffic to the blog.
“Even if the number of bloggers are limited in India, the impact of these kinds of blogs get amplified through media reports and other channels,” said Ali.
Advani is expected to blog at least two-three times a week and the posts “will increase as the campaign picks up”, said Bora. “Then he will have many stories of human interest to tell. He cannot put out all those experiences he comes across during his election tour through official releases.”