New Delhi: The hunt for a new social media chief of the Congress party is unlikely to end anytime soon as the Sonia Gandhi-led party’s priority is the ongoing state elections in Maharashtra and Haryana. The top post in the party’s social media department has been vacant since Lok Sabha elections earlier this year following the resignation of Divya Spandana.
The crucial department has been functioning without a chief for over three months now. The issue becomes much more significant with the electoral campaign already gaining steam for the Maharashtra elections, which goes to polls on 21 October and at least two more elections — Jharkhand and Delhi — are scheduled to take place over the next six months.
The election itself has led to the delay in the announcement of the new chief as senior party leaders feel Gandhi is prioritizing state polls and organizational issues before she takes up the appointment of a new social media chief. According to leaders, the lack of consensus in the top leadership over a name is also another reason for the possible delay.
“Naturally, state election is the first priority. Since Sonia Gandhi has taken over, she had crucial matters to attend to, including resolving factionalism within state units. A new social media chief is due but this may get delayed as state polls are more pressing matter," a person aware of developments said requesting anonymity.
“If there was consensus in the top leadership on one name then the announcement would have happened by now," said the person quoted above.
Senior Congress leaders feel that while a team, inclusive of five national coordinators and other functionaries are in place to handle the work, the lack of a department head is affecting the party's social media strategy, which is much needed in the backdrop of state polls.
“The social department is doing its work, raising issues and following up on issues that are on ground. But in the lack of a chain of command, decision making takes longer and there is no one point person for taking calls. That of course is affecting the overall work of the department," according to a senior party leader.
The country's internet population has grown by 108% from 250 million in 2014 when the last general elections were held, to 520 million this year, making digital platforms an even stronger tool to woo voters with. The usage of social media platforms grew by 155% during this period.
A politically resurgent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is keeping a keen eye on usage of social media in elections and is likely to ramp up its online presence in the ongoing state polls.