Here is how virtual campaigning in Uttar Pradesh is generating jobs for young, net-savvy students 

With the focus on virtual campaigning, majority of the candidates are hiring young people who can push their campaign on the social media  
Representative Image
Representative Image

The elections in Uttar Pradesh have created job opportunities, albeit temporary, for youth who are tech-savvy. With the focus on virtual campaigning, majority of the candidates are hiring young people who can push their campaign on the social media. Most of the cyber-smart campaigners are either in college or just out of college.

Samarth Gupta, an undergraduate, has been hired on a two-month contract by a candidate in Lucknow. "The candidate wanted to hire me for one month because polling in Lucknow will be over on February 23 but I insisted on a two-month contract and he agreed. All I have to do is to post photographs of his campaign, create some slogans and retweet the posts of top leaders," he said. Samarth is being paid a sum of Rs 40,000 per month.

Shalini Awasthi, who has done her Master's in public administration, is working for a woman candidate from the BJP and is being paid Rs 50,000 for one month. "Working for a BJP candidate is much easier because the party's IT cell provides a lot of content and I only need to retweet it or forward and share it. I also make sure that my client gets photographed well during her campaign, I sometimes accompany her, and she is projected in a favourable light. So far, we have avoided commenting on contentious issues because we are also targeting the floating voters," she explained and added that special videos are also being made for Instagram accounts of her client.

There is a greater demand for youth who are well versed in English too because that takes care of a bilingual campaign. Shashwat Banerjee, an MBA student, has landed an assignment for social media management simply because he is a Bengali and knows the language.

"There are a large number of Bengalis in the constituency of my client and he wants all his social media posts to be posted in Bengali too. Therefore, I post the contest in English, Hindi and Bengali which endears him to Bengali voters," he said. His salary is also higher, Rs 65,000 for a month.

Candidates contesting from rural Assembly constituencies are mostly focussing on SMS. "Since a large population in the rural interiors does not have smart phones, we are not wasting time and money on Facebook and Instagram. Instead, we are sending out catchy SMS message and are also encouraging people to reply so that we can get feedback," said Sonu Kureel, an intermediate student who is working for a local BSP candidate in Sultanpur.

Interestingly, most of the youth working in this virtual campaign for candidates, do not necessarily subscribe to the same ideology. "This is business and I do not belong to the same ideology as my client. But it is a job and I am doing it well," said Shalini.

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