Only social media can't help win elections, says Twitter-savvy Shashi Tharoor

Social media has become the new political battleground with both the Congress and the BJP trying to outsmart each other.

New Delhi: At a time major political parties are fighting to outdo each other on the social media, Twitter-savvy Union Minister Shashi Tharoor has said that this alone can't help win elections - it is just a new way of reaching out to people.

"We can't give up traditional politics because of social networking, we still have to hold rallies, go for door-to-door meetings, mass meetings... But we can't ignore the social media either - a lot of people in India are active on the social media because they are easily available on phones," Mr Tharoor said at the launch of a social networking website in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Mr Tharoor's comments come ahead of Thursday's scheduled Congress workshop in New Delhi on using the social media to build up the party's communication strategy and to set up a framework across India ahead of Lok Sabha elections due in May next year.

A number of Union Ministers and senior party leaders will address the workshop.

Ahead of the high-stake polls, social media has become the new political battleground with both the Congress and the BJP trying to outsmart each other with new ideas to woo the web-savvy generation.

Last week, the BJP launched what it called its "chargesheet" on the "dark decade of UPA's mal-governance" with a website that attempts massive outreach through social media.

Senior party leaders showcased the new site at http://bjp.org/upachargesheet, where people can also use tools like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Flickr and SMSes to give feedback and complain about the UPA.

A day before that, Congress supporters had targeted Narendra Modi, the BJP's chief election strategist and presumptive Prime Ministerial candidate, with a website 'www.Fekuexpress.com' ahead of Mr Modi's visit to Hyderabad.

Congress supporters have often used "feku" - slang for one who makes tall claims - as a hashtag on Twitter to attack Mr Modi, while the Gujarat Chief Minister's supporters have retaliated with the hashtag "Pappu" to target Congress number 2 Rahul Gandhi.

Mr Modi is seen as one of the most social-media-savvy politicians in the country with over two million followers on the micro-blogging website Twitter. His nearest rival is Mr Tharoor, who has over 1.8 million followers on Twitter.

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