Some of the specially designed cartoons show Akhilesh speaking about “Ummedon Ka Pradesh” with farmers committing suicide in the background next to a projector displaying his government’s metro and expressway projects. The recent merger of QED into Samajwadi Party and the subsequent decision to call it off too have been targeted with the phrase “jhoothe they inke vaade, khooni hain naye iradey (their promises were lies, their intentions are bloodthirsty)”. BSP supremo Mayawati is targeted over allegations of corruption with one of the cartoons depicting a statue of Ambedkar holding a book alongside that of the BSP leader, only she is holding a purse.
Asked about the campaign, Shiv Pandey, the in-charge of social media of Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee told “Although ‘27 Saal UP Behaal’ will be our punch line going into the elections, we do not own these pages. We do not know from where they have come. Our leaders like these pages and the issues covered in them and are therefore forwarding or sharing them from their social media accounts.”
BJP too has begun its preparations but with hashtags that closely resemble the one that the Congress has been passionately endorsing of late. While the saffron party’s media cell has never shied away from coming up with critical slogans and even more critical cartoons, this time it has chosen to put less effort into the exercise and use the existing pages doing the rounds online. And so, several BJP leaders’ accounts can be found sharing/re-tweeting the pages marked under Congress’s unofficial “27 Saal UP Behaal” hashtag, but only, and quite obviously, the ones that target Mayawati and Akhilesh. For the amount of work that the party’s media cell has put in, hashtags “10 Saal UP Behaal”, “Lakshya265+” and “@UPBJP_265” are among the ones BJP workers have been sharing.
The ruling party SP and the principal opposition party BSP weren’t going to be left behind. Although their hashtags – “UP Rising With Akhilesh” and “@BspUp2017”, respectively – have yet to pick pace. But the political war on social media for the elections next year, it seems, has begun.