Home / Politics / Policy /  Nitish Kumar takes the Bihar poll battle online

New Delhi: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has become the latest national political leader to launch a social media campaign to fight elections.

The Bihar@2025 campaign will use platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to not only list the achievements of the state government over the last 10 years, but also answer questions and seek suggestions ahead of assembly elections due this year.

This is said to be the first time that a chief minister from Bihar has used social media to promote his election campaign, and follows similar moves by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.

Kumar has also decided to hold regular breakfast meetings with his supporters and the media.

The Bihar@2025 campaign will mainly be used to get feedback from people and prepare a vision document for the development of Bihar. Increasing his presence on social media platforms, Kumar last week held a Q&A session on Twitter.

With the Election Commission of India (EC) yet to announce the poll dates, senior leaders of the Janata Dal (United) government, headed by Nitish Kumar, describe the Bihar@2025 website as a platform to inform people about the work done by the government in the last 10 years and seek their inputs for a development document for the next decade.

Prime Minister Modi successfully tapped social media platforms for campaigning in the run-up to Lok Sabha elections in 2014, including interactive sessions.

“The use of social media in election campaigns is here to stay, and we will see a substantial increase in the coming elections. But it is an added aspect. It gives colour to the campaign and appeals to the modernizing citizens. While you cannot deny the importance, Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal didn’t get their respective victories only because of their social media campaigns," said Abhay Kumar Dubey, a New Delhi-based political analyst associated with the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).

The Bihar polls, expected to be held in September or October, will be the first state election since the February elections in Delhi, where Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) trounced Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress to bag 67 out of 70 seats.

With Nitish Kumar also stitching up a socialist political grouping to challenge the BJP, the election is being seen as a test of Modi’s leadership.

Events planned by the ruling JD(U) in the run-up to the election in Bihar include Jan Bhagidari, or people’s participation, a mass event to create multiple points of contact between the leadership and Bihar’s 40,000 villages.

Four hundred mobile Jan Bhagidari Manch, in the form of GPS-enabled trucks with audio/visual (AV) equipment, will be deployed across the state.

The JD(U) government has also developed a module called Bihar Development Dialogue, where the state leadership, along with students, businessmen, the civil society representatives, public servants, bureaucrats, journalists and experts, will discuss the steps taken by the government in the state’s overall development.

They will also look at devising faster and better ways of achieving goals of inclusive development, taking into account opinions from various development experts and practitioners.

Along with Patna, events will be held in Delhi and Mumbai.

The scheme takes a leaf out of a similar strategy followed successfully by the AAP in the Delhi election. These were similar platforms, called the Delhi Dialogue series, which would help the AAP chalk out its future action plans on various development matters.

The AAP has decided to not contest the elections in Bihar but will campaign against the BJP.

A campaign called “samvaad" also aims at connecting non-resident Indians (NRIs) from Bihar and other states with the state’s developmental journey.

The state leadership will reach out to NRIs to gain an understanding of their aspirations for the state.

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