— Consider reading the article Jaane kahaan gaye woh bots: The story of how Congress lost their ‘winning edge’ online on OpIndia website —
The Congress party and its IT Cell has embarked on a novel initiative on Twitter. After losing a poll conducted by India Today on the social media platform, they have resorted to making allegations that the BJP employed bots to tilt the poll in its favour. The poll asked people on social media who their preferred candidate for the office of Prime Minister was.
Along expected lines, Narendra Modi won the poll comprehensively. However, Congress supporters and IT Cell accounts on the platform accused the BJP of winning the poll using bots. It is, of course, a bewildering allegation given that the poll results are consistent with every opinion poll that has been conducted over the past six years and the results of the 2019 General Elections proved abundantly which politician was the more preferred candidate for Prime Minister.
The Congress party, however, decided the best course of action was to claim that the BJP had won the Twitter Poll using bots and somehow, the IT Cell managed to link it to EVM machines. The Congress party’s shenanigans involving EVMs are well known but using the results of a Twitter poll to rake up its conspiracy theories of EVM manipulation is indeed a bit of a stretch.
Consistent with the narrative planted by Saral Patel, Congress supporters claimed that the results of the Twitter poll is clear evidence that the BJP won the elections through EVM manipulation.
Others are asking people to ‘imagine’ the extent of EVM manipulations in the country given that the Twitter poll was allegedly manipulated by the BJP with bots. It is ridiculous, of course, but the mere fact that we are even discussing this issue shows that the Congress party has long since distanced itself from the last remaining bits of its sanity.
While one would expect someone from the Congress party to step in and put an end to the madness, it is clearly not happening. They are receiving great praises for suffering an apocalyptic meltdown over a defeat in a Twitter poll. One cannot be sure whether Rahul Gandhi was this dejected after leading Congress to debacle in two consecutive Lok Sabha Elections.
One cannot be sure whether the Congress party actually believes these lies or if they know these are not truths but are lying anyway. It’s hard to say which one is worse precisely.
There is a much easier explanation for this that does not require anyone to put their faith in delusions. The India Today poll was circulated widely on social media as is evident from the number of retweets it received on Twitter. It is quite possible that Rahul Gandhi was leading at some point during the polling but that was before supporters of the Prime Minister took notice of the poll.
After Modi supporters saw that Rahul Gandhi was leading, they voted in the poll and circulated it among their own friends. Accounts with huge follower counts surely quote-tweeted the poll and asked their followers to vote as well. All of this can happen very quickly and within a couple of hours, the whole scenario can easily change.
Furthermore, it is only to be expected that the politician who enjoys a far greater popularity across the country will also enjoy greater popularity on social media. Online poll victories for the more popular politician is not surprising. Nonetheless, there is an interesting story to be told here. The Congress party, which is accusing the BJP of using bots, is known to have used bots in the past to counter the social media dominance of the BJP.
In October 2017, the party’s bid to relaunch Rahul Gandhi was aided by a horde of Russian, Kazhak and Indonesian bots. With help from these bot accounts, the Congress party witnessed a massive surge in its social media activity. If one were not aware of what was actually happening, he or she must have thought that the Congress party was gaining in popularity.
The mainstream media, again, true to its nature, hyped up Rahul Gandhi and claimed that the Congress party was ‘finally getting its act together’. Thus, the party which crafted a narrative of its resurgence using bot accounts is accusing the BJP of employing bots and somehow linking it to EVM manipulation. Intriguing, certainly.
Not merely bots, ‘fake girls’ could also be seen on social media aiding attempts to relaunch Rahul Gandhi. There was enough evidence to indicate that the Congress party was using pictures of random girls on the internet in order to increase the fan following of the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.
Thus, for the Congress party to accuse the BJP of using bots to win Twitter polls appears a bit ridiculous given its own conduct in the past. Furthermore, its attempt to cast aspersions on the legitimacy of the 2019 General Election results on the basis of the results of an online reveals the intellectual bankruptcy that has gripped the party.
Contrary to the allegations made by the Congress party, it is, of course, infinitely more likely that the Congress party is not winning the online polls because it is not employing as many bots as they used to. Under any circumstance, it is preposterous to claim that the BJP is using bots on Twitter to show Narendra Modi is more popular than Rahul Gandhi.
The far likelier scenario is that without national level elections anytime soon and campaigning for the Assembly Elections disrupted by the Coronavirus crisis, the Congress party is not investing in bots as much as they did prior to the Lok Sabha elections. And in the absence of bots, their online popularity has taken a heavy drubbing.