Shiromani Akali Dal heir Sukhbir Singh Badal seems to have got his act right… just in time.
As all parties in Punjab frayed to launch their election manifesto and shower promises to voters, Shiromani Akali Dal waited enough for the noise to settle down, before making a big bang of its own manifesto. Traditionally, election manifestos in Punjab have been launched weeks prior to the polls. This is to ensure the messaging penetrate interiors of the state. This time Shiromani Akali Dal, has gambled with the launch of its manifesto to maximize the reach of its agenda not only to the remote interiors of Punjab, but also to ensure reaching the Punjab that resides out of India’s borders.
Punjabi’s are the largest Indian community residing outside India in European, African and North American countries. Even though Non-residents do not vote in elections, due to remittances, family dynamics and social structure of Punjabi families, patriarchal individual residing abroad often hold significant sway in decision making for relatives residing in India. The delay in launch of manifesto enabled Shiromani Akali Dal to stay away from the election noise creating curiosity and suspense. It was vital for the party to capitalize on the hype and launch a campaign touch basing all segments of its target audience in the shortest possible time. Shiromani Akali Dal’s arrangement with search engine Google helped them achieve its objectives with flying colors.
91 videos of Sukhbir Singh Badal have been uploaded on YouTube; each footage is a 2 minute “development show” projecting Shiromani Akali Dal’s contribution in Punjab’s progress. Online presence has enabled a viral campaign for the Shiromani Akali Dal on other social network sites such as Facebook which are popular amongst youth. Breaking down barriers of accessibility and timing, the footage is available for free for anyone & everyone to watch 24/7. Add to that Shiromani Akali Dal has also sent 12,00,000 emails to prospective voters with concise data on its contribution to Punjab’s development and its plans for Punjab’s future. Also, through an arrangement with Google, whenever a user types Punjab, or Akali dal in Google search engine, the website throws the party’s advertisement on the screen. Any clicks and the user is diverted to the Shiromani Akali Dal’s website.
While political analysts continue to remain skeptical of the power of online tools in political campaigning; this intrepid move could dawn a new age of social media utilisation in political campaigning in India.
Written by Rishi Vaidya for Image Management