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Yechury opposes digital campaign plan in Bihar

In a letter Yechury said Bihar Chief Electoral Officer had made this proposal for the entire election campaign to be conducted on a virtual platform because of the pandemic.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury has written to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora opposing the proposal of digital election campaign in the coming Bihar elections, saying it will give unfair advantage to the ruling BJP there.

In a letter yesterday, Yechury said Bihar Chief Electoral Officer had made this proposal for the entire election campaign to be conducted on a virtual platform because of the pandemic.

But this was opposed by most political parties as they said it would only allow a restricted access to voters and require massive financial resources too. Yechury said that on the eve of the 2019 general election, then BJP president Amit Shah had publicly stated the party can, with its network of 32 lakh WhatsApp groups, make any message viral within hours.

And now on the eve of Bihar elections, the party has kicked off a virtual election campaign by putting up 72,000 LED TV monitors for Shah’s speech, Yechury said.

After holding 60 virtual rallies, the BJP has claimed that its election campaign efforts would involve 9,500 IT cell heads who will coordinate 72,000 WhatsApp groups, one for each polling booth, of which 50,000 have been formed in the last two months, the CPI (M) leader wrote. “The amount of expenditure that would be involved to put together such manpower for a technology driven system is simply mind boggling,” Yechury said.

Even before the electoral bonds came, the BJP had an advantage over other parties in poll funding, he said. The availability of anonymous corporate funds without any upper limit, will certainly be the death knell for electoral democracy, he said.

Yechury welcomed the EC’s decision to put aside its earlier decision regarding the exercise of franchise through postal ballots for all voters above the age of 64 in the Bihar Assembly election.