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Nitish Kumar Vs Tejashwi Yadav: Who Is Acing The Social Media Game?

Considering that the smartphones have now reached to every corner of the country, with the availability of affordable monthly data packs, social media can be a great tool to understand how the youth think, who they follow and where do their political loyalties tilt.

Bihar goes to polls tomorrow. The first phase of voting will be conducted tomorrow i.e. October 28. The assembly election that was considered to be an easy walkover for the NDA, has suddenly become a close contest after RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav promised 10 lakh government jobs to the youth of Bihar. Many political pundits, despite opinion polls showing a clear majority for the NDA, have been hesitant to predict the outcome of the polls.

Nitish Kumar, on the other hand, seems to be rattled by the kind of crowds the RJD’s CM candidate is pulling to his rallies. Nitish, earlier known as “Sushasan Babu” (the good governance guy), looked seemingly annoyed by the section of crowds raising pro-Lalu Yadav slogans in his rallies. “Tum ko agar vote nahi dena hai toh mat do,” said Nitish, which loosely translates to: “if you don’t want to vote for us, then don’t).

Nitish, who’s known to be a soft-spoken and educated leader, forgot to watch his words when he attacked Lalu Prasad Yadav and Rabri Devi on Monday. “Does anyone care? They have eight-nine children. They have no faith in their daughters. After so many daughters, they had a son. You all can see – this is the kind of Bihar they want to make,” Nitish said.

But why Nitish, who usually maintains decorum in his public appearances, has lost his cool? The reason for this could be the rising popularity of Tejashwi Yadav among the youth.

Of the total 7.18 crore voters in Bihar, the youth (18-39 age bracket) accounts for 3.66 crores (50.97%).  In fact, voters in the 18-25 age bracket account for 16 per cent of the total population in the state. This was particularly the reason why the BJP came up with the promise of 19 lakh employment opportunities in their manifesto, shortly after Tejashwi Yadav’s 10 lakh government jobs vow started garnering massive crowds to his rallies.

Considering that the smartphones have now reached to every corner of the country, with the availability of affordable monthly data packs, social media can be a great tool to understand how the youth think, who they follow and where do their political loyalties tilt.

So who has aced the social media game: Tejashwi Yadav or Nitish Kumar? 

Facebook

Facebook has now become a very important part of political campaigning. The live streaming of rallies, interviews and addresses are readily available for viewers, who do not wish to personally attend the event. The likes, shares and comments are the new age marketing phenomena, which Prime Minister Modi has benefitted from in both general elections of 2014 and 2019.

Tejashwi Yadav’s official Facebook page has 15,77,973 likes, whereas 18,42,711 follow the RJD leader’s page. On the other hand, the incumbent CM Nitish Kumar has a very slight edge over Tejashwi with 15,95,054 likes on his Facebook page. However, Nitish lags behind in case of the number of followers (16,33,152 ).

The latest live stream (when this article is being written) on Tejashwi Yadav’s Facebook page is from Sitamarhi, where he addressed the campaign rally. This video, streamed almost three hours ago, already has 260K views, with 26K people reacting to it. It also has 5.4K comments below it.

When compared with CM Nitish Kumar’s live stream around the same time from the rally in Islampur, Tejashwi seems to be garnering more virtual views than the Bihar CM. Nitish Kumar’s live stream has 36K views and 2.1k reactions. Whereas, as much as 834 comments were made on the live stream.

The live stream of Tejashwi Yadav’s rally in Hasanpur on Monday has 661K views on his Facebook page. The video has attracted 47K reactions from the user, while 8.8K people have commented on it.

At the same time around on Monday, CM Nitish addressed a rally in Mahua. The live stream of Nitish’s Mahua rally has 100K views on Facebook. 4.6K people have reacted to the video, while 1.9K comments were seen below the stream.

Looking at the numbers on Facebook pages of both leaders, it would not be an exaggeration to assume that RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav has been leading in the context of Facebook engagements. Nitish Kumar, by a large margin, is lagging behind in the Facebook reach race against Yadav.

Twitter

Twitter, though not as popular as Facebook among youth, certainly has a userbase which is more political in nature. Leaders, instead of going to media, often choose to voice their stands and opinions on Twitter.

On Twitter, the following of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar precedes that of Tejashwi. Nitish Kumar has 6.1 million followers on Twitter, while RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav has 2.6 million followers.

The two leaders also post videos on Twitter. However, where Nitish Kumar live streams his rallies on Twitter, Tejashwi Yadav prefers to post short videos with visuals of the crowds at his rallies. The latter garners more engagements.

A video posted by Tejashwi Yadav from his rally in Kanti at 5.57 PM on Tuesday, had already garnered over 650 retweets by 6.15 PM. The video had 2.8 likes.

Whereas, Nitish Kumar’s live stream from Nalanda rally, which started at 4.44 PM, had only 33 retweets by 6.15 PM. The stream had 289 likes.

The video posted by Tejashwi Yadav on Monday from the rally in Hasanpur has garnered over 126K views. The video has received 3.6K retweets, while its was liked by 21.2K users.

On the other hand, the video live-streamed by Nitish Kumar from his Mahua rally, had only 6.9K views. The video was retweeted 98 times by the users, whereas it received 688 likes.

On Twitter, despite having more following than Tejashwi Yadav, Nitish Kumar has failed to reach more people than him. The reason for this could be the way Nitish interacts with users. Shorter videos on social media sites are often “viral-worthy”, whereas long videos tend to get lesser reach. When Nitish Kumar is streaming long half and hour rallies on his Twitter, the short videos with moving visuals of crowds on Tejashwi’s Twitter are getting more engagements.

Instagram

Though Instagram is not used for political campaigning by major political parties, the youth seems to love the app. Many political leaders understand how helpful Instagram can be in order to reach young voters, however, many do not seem to have grasped the importance of this platform. Nitish Kumar comes in the latter category. The Bihar CM does not have an active Instagram account. One account with username thenitishkumar_cm has around 9K follower. But the last post made from this account was on June 10.

Whereas Nitish’s opponent Tejashwi Yadav, who’s batting on youth to gain the power, has an active Instagram account. Tejashwi Yadav has 41.6K followers on Instagram. The video posted by Tejashwi Yadav on October 22 from a campaign rally has over 13K views and 190 comments.

All in all, RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav seems to have aced the social media game in this Bihar assembly polls. His Facebook videos are getting more hits than Nitish’s, his tweets are being shared more than Nitish’s and his Instagram is not as dead as Nitish’s.

However, it will be interesting to see whether such traction on social media can help Tejashwi Yadav change the outcome of polls, which currently seem to tilt towards the NDA as per opinion polls.

Tejashwi, for now, needs to convert the virtual support into an actual footfall at voting booths. Nitish, for now, needs a better social media advisor.

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