Why Congress' IT Cell is lagging behind. Representational Image.

Why Congress’ IT Cell is lagging behind?

–Shams Khan

TNW, New Delhi, May 1: During lock down, the major political battle is being played out on social media. Even as the BJP is finding itself on back foot, its IT cell is creating ruckus on virtual platforms in the favour of the party: It is unleashing, overpowering and bending narratives without much resistance.

Except twitter to a degree, the opposition Congress has been pushed on social media channels, such as Facebook and WhatsApp, to the corner. Majority of middle and lower middle class youths consume the information from these two channels, which eventually build their perception.

Hence, observers question whether the Congress IT Cell exist or it is disbanded?

Congress top leadership has been consistently raising issues of public interests, be it the dire situations of migrant workers, or lack of food grains for poor, or Centre’s laxity in the fight against COVID-19. Especially, it raised important questions on the availability of testing kits and highlighted the issue of alleged exorbitant arbitrage in the purchase of testing kits from China. However, its IT Cell, the only medium active for building narrative in lock down, is unable to trickle down the messages to the masses.

Take the example of All India Congress Committee Facebook page. The footprint of high BJP IT Cell activity could be easily traced from the comments on posts; the latter’s strategy of disconcerting and drowning opinions from where it originates appears to be working.

Ironically, the mentioned FB page has more than 55 lakhs followers; if barely few thousands of them had shown interest in engaging with the posts of the page, they would have comfortably overwhelmed its opponent, at least, in its bastion. Indeed, dearth of passionate flag bearers is the serious issue that the grand old party has been grappling with.

However, Azmi Bari, Bihar Congress spokesperson speaking to theNewsweb strongly contested the view that Congress is not fully into the fight. He said, “The hatred, negativity and destruction spread faster than the truth and positivity. The major promoter of BJP’s negative propaganda on social media is the news clips selectively taken from electronic media broadcasts. Innocent People fall prey to such unethical and divisive design. But people have started to see through such sinister agenda. Being a responsible national party, Congress maintains a constructive approach and we have full faith that truth will prevail sooner than later.”

A cursory analysis of working of the Congress cell indicates that its focus remains on producing political content and counter narrative. It fails to meaningfully engage in the comment sections of the favorable posts where BJP IT Cell put them out to spin control and twist the narrative.

However, one observer privy to the working of Congress IT body on the condition of anonymity revealed that unlike BJP IT Cell’s unrestrained approach of employing unofficial channels, the Congress’ IT cell largely operates under the official ambit, therefore, it remains guarded in its attack and counter attacks.

This observer further pointed out that the members of Congress IT Cell, though usually rebut the BJP’s diversionary tactics, yet they retreat once the engagement gets vitriolic or abusive.

Yet the structural deficiency, in particular, the lack of second and third rung leaders to support the top echelon, which otherwise appears formidable, must be immediately tackled. Congress also must seriously rethink its social media strategy as its not giving it the desired result. Howsoever bleak the situation may be, still with proper strategy and intervention the possibility of extracting some positive results is always available.

(Shams Khan is associated with Bihar Times. The views are personal.)

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