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What’s the role of the online political armies post-election? #citizenship #election2014

I saw a tweet this morning that wondered: Will the politicians who had built their social media presence because of the elections would stick around to continue to engage with their constituents post-elections. A valid point! We all laugh at but believe in the caricature of the politician who comes around once in five years to beg for votes, but never shows his face otherwise!

This time round though, the political fervor has given birth to a new breed of social media enthusiasts who form a sort of bridge between the politicians/political parties and the voter base. Call them trolls or mobilizers, they have been the virtual foot soldiers of political parties this election season.

I’m unsure about how organized these things are, but I am wondering if we might see some sort of consolidation and institutionalization happening in this space. I’m also thinking ahead about what sort of roles these social media groups that support specific political alignments, or are specialized in specific sectors (like industry, health, employment, finance, agriculture, rural development, urbanisation, etc) could play in influencing government policy and thinking. Would we see the emergence of influential online think tanks, consolidation of individuals who find synergies online and work together to think through the changes they would like to see or critique existing policy to offer constructive suggestions? Would we see, or are we already seeing, lobbies forming (like in the US) that aggressively push certain agendas and argue against others.

The middle-class urban voter has engaged politically in this election, perhaps far more than before. The data will show, but that’s what the sense is. At least in terms of thought, there is increased engagement that could well drive the above sort of groups. But will the decision makers engage with online groups and heed them? Or will these online groups have to create offline persona to physically to rounds of the ministries and petition the concerned people?

And so runs my overactive brain this morning, trying to contemplate how best citizens can engage with their elected leaders.
Coming up: My first hand experience of teaming up with fellow citizens to approach the Gurgaon Traffic Police to ask for safer roads

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