HYDERABAD: The vigorous Munugode bypoll campaign was fought in cyberspace as much as on the ground – with the three main parties, their leaders, candidates, activists, sympathisers, volunteers, paid agencies, trolls and party-slanted and neutral analysts pitching in on a plethora of social media platforms with their posts, reels, videos, images and tweets.
One of the most popular, and winner by sheer response of over a lakh engagements per day, was Telangana Atma Gouravam, which on Facebook garnered over two lakhs views within 48 hours.
In the video, senior BJP leader, former MLA and strategist Yennam Srinivas Reddy is seen describing various watermark elections in Telangana – Kalwakurthy (1989), Siddipet (2001), Karimnagar (2006), Palamoor (2012), Dubbak (2020) and Huzurabad (2021) – and then poignantly appeals to voter on behalf of his party by asking, will Munugode go down in history in 2022?
The campaign season has been dramatic, filled with rhetoric, counterfactuals, arguments and counter arguments, fake news, lies, abusive trolling – with all contesting parties trying their best to appeal to voters through all means available on social media.
While most visible political debate was on Twitter, the most appealing, engaging and influencing factors were videos, long and short, available on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and, shared stuff on WhatsApp.
In the Munugode season, many videos went viral, where leaders are seen attacking their rivals or showcasing their own achievements; while some videos went on to do rounds for the mischievous acts.
Videos by BJP highlighting alleged failures and poor governance of the TRS government in the state and appealing to voters to vote for Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy to reinstate ‘Atma Gouravam’ found some of the highest levels of traction.
Satirical videos by Teenmaar Mallanna and his team, often making fun of all parties contesting the elections, were very popular. In one such video, the host could be seen making fun of the TRS, calling them names such as farmhouse party, in which he decodes the poaching incident that went viral.
An interesting video of TRS leader Rajanala Srihari distributing chicken and liquor to locals in Warangal went viral too, where the leader could be seen handing over a live chicken and a liquor bottle to every one of the locals who queued up to collect the freebies for Dasara.
The TRS also took to wrestling back in response by posting counter-attack videos. In some of the videos, including those shared by the party’s official handle on Facebook, the TRS blamed the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the power shortage. The party appealed to voters to vote for TRS for development of farmers. Many of these vidoes had tens of thousands of views and engagements.
A top video in cyberspace across platforms was one made on Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, whose visit to Chandur for the public meeting and making a grand entry and interacting with people did rounds, with a caption ‘Boss Entry’.
While there were videos of attacks, counter-attacks, and accusations, some funny videos also caught the attention of people for their unique content. A video of evangelist K.A. Paul dancing with villagers in Munugode went viral, as people enjoyed his rattle fire against all leaders who visited the constituency to woo voters.
The video of speeches of almost all leaders went viral, but the hilarious goof-ups of TRS candidate K. Prabhakar Reddy, who fumbled in his nomination speech and engaged in unparalleled malapropism, calling KTR as NTR, and a video of Congress candidate Palvai Sravanthi breaking down into tears had the highest impact.