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13 May 2017

Hills abuzz with last minute preparations for civic polls

Hills abuzz with last minute preparations for civic pollsAmitava Banerjee | MP | 12 May 2017 | Darjeeling: With election campaigns for the civic polls ending at 3 pm on Friday, there was a last hour rush to appeal for votes. The TMC held a rally in Darjeeling seeking votes with the agenda of development and good governance while the GJM held a rally in Kalimpong over "Gorkhaland versus Bengal." As for the Independents, e-campaign emerged as the messiah.
If necessity is the mother of invention then the Independent candidates have exploited it to the fullest. Without star campaigners, organisational support enjoyed by political outfits and other resources, the Independents were compelled to devise highly effective campaign methods to derive maximum output. E-campaign have thus, emerged as the unanimous choice.
There are 95 candidates in the fray in the Darjeeling civic polls out of which 22 are Independents. The latter consist disgruntled party supporters as well as those who are not affiliated to any political party and are contesting with the assurances of reclaiming the lost glory of the Queen of the Hills.
Namrata Edwards, a homemaker is contesting from ward number 30 as an Independent. Her husband, Ajoy Edwards, along with her friend Smriti Rahel Philip are handling her campaign. "There is a sealing of Rs 30,000. When we went to newspapers, a single advertisement cost around Rs 32,000. We were at our wits end and then we decided to embark on e-campaigning along with the door-to-door campaign. E-campaign is the most effective tool," feels Ajoy Edwards.
He stated that e-campaign through the social media is highly cost effective and has a far outreach. "We did not need much manpower of equipment. We just shot whatever message she wanted to put across to the voters with cell phones, edited them and uploaded them on social network sites. In hours, more than 10,000 people would had viewed it and shared it," stated Philip.
Armed with the message of "Pariwartan, Asha and Unnati" and "Citizen, Not Politician," Namrata now has thousands of followers.
"Many are more vocal on social media. E-campaign also has another advantage — there is no time limit and till the last minute one can appeal for support through messages," added Namrata.
For Anil Gupta, a businessman and Independent candidate of ward 24, e-campaign has emerged as a saviour. "There are many in the Hills who do not want to come out in the open with their support for different reasons. The e-campaign has helped a lot in this aspect. I have sent messages through social networking sites which have been effectively circulated," added Gupta.
Sagar Pradhan is a social worker and is contesting from Ward 6 as an Independent. "This is civic polls concerning civic amenities and upliftment of the town. Politics has got very little to do with the civic polls and I, myself, am not a political person. I used the social media to spread the message that the voters should cast their votes consciously. The responses in the social network sites are overwhelming," added Pradhan. 
In Ward No. 1 in Kalimpong, official TMC candidate Pawan Sundas crossed over to the GJM on Friday. When questioned on this, TMC leader Gautam Deb stated that he was not aware of any such development.








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