Regional parties vote for ShareChat to reach voters Even as the two major national — the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress — are sparring it out on large, mainstream social media platforms like Twitter, and WhatsApp, smaller regional parties, especially in South India have taken a unique route to voters: Indian language content apps like ShareChat.

At least three regional parties in Telangana and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh have been actively using the platform as part of their digital campaign strategy. Among them are YSR Congress in Andhra, Jana Sena Party in Telangana and Andhra, and Telangana Rashtra Samiti. Beyond the twin states, parties like the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) in Kerala are also actively using the platform.

Among the national parties, Congress has a presence on ShareChat. Company sources say that other regional parties, including the Uttar Pradesh-based Samajwadi Party, have expressed interest in joining the platform. Aam Aadmi Party too joined the platform this week.

Regional parties vote for ShareChat to reach voters
“ShareChat is a unique platform with its core focus on regional language users who are early adopters of the internet. Our audience is distinctive, and form the core voter base who will be exercising their ,” a ShareChat spokesperson said in response to ET’s questions. “Political parties have understood this USP of our platform, and we are not surprised that these parties are keen to join the platform and woo voters,” he added.

“While we have a lot of options on social , our primary attraction to Share-Chat is the ability to share on WhatsApp. That is a significant advantage in my view,” says a member of the TRS social team on condition of anonymity.

Currently, a typical post by the TRS attracts around 20-25 shares on WhatsApp, but the member quoted above told ET that the party would “take it to the next level”, by more followers, which currently stands at a mere 190.

sources say that platforms like ShareChat attract anywhere between 2 million and 4.5 million users on a daily basis among Telugu language speakers, across both states. ShareChat declined to give a specific breakup of its users on the basis of language. That is not all. The Hyderabad-headquartered Jana Sena Party, led by popular Telugu film star Pawan Kalyan, has been a largely social-media driven organisation. The party recently announced its presence on ShareChat on its Twitter page, which has nearly 655,000 followers.

Gnana Varsha, a member of Jana Sena Party’s Shatagni (social media cell) team says: “As social media is the biggest weapon for our party, we decided to be active on all social media platforms. This includes ShareChat, Helo and even short video Samosa.” He adds, “All these local apps are to reach out for local language speaking people. And since our party is active in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, and since the language is the same, it helps us.”

Curiously, it is Pawan Kalyan’s political rival in Andhra Pradesh, who is among the most active politicians on the platform. YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, the president of the YSR Congress Party is currently on a statewide padayatra (foot march), which the party calls Praja Sankalpa Yatra.

Both Reddy and the YSR Congress Party cadre have been actively posting updates on the march, which has been attracting tens and thousands of views from users on the platform. Besides, the company has also created a special hashtag for the march, with an emoji of a man walking, with the Praja Sankalpa Yatra written in Telugu. Inevitably, it makes it to every post by Reddy and his team. The YSR Congress Party could not be reached for a comment.

The flex board goes digital

Besides the venerable ‘Good Morning’ messages that ShareChat users have now become accustomed to, the platform has emerged to become a significant option to circulate political content. These typically include propaganda content in the form of images portraying political leaders as larger than life, with a text either in favour or against the person or the party he represents. Or, a digital version of the local flex board around the chauraha or naaka, if you like.

Currently, ShareChat claims a registered user base of over 50 million users, of which it counts 11million as its daily active user (DAU) base. It pales in comparison to the over 250 million users each WhatsApp and Facebook claim in India, also their largest markets. And while these parties continue to opt for a WhatsApp first and Facebook-next campaign strategy, given the respective reach of these two platforms, and their undoubted promise in helping organise themselves during elections, platforms like ShareChat are becoming critical, for content testing and broadcast.

While PM Narendra Modi, unsurprisingly, continues to be the most popular or most mentioned political leader on the platform without being on it, it was Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who was among the first political leaders to join it. Gandhi, company sources say, is not as active as others. Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, sources add, is the most active among the two BJP chief ministers on the platform, Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis being the other. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal too joined the platform earlier this week.

Political activity on ShareChat first came to light during last year’s Gujarat polls when it was used by Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mewani and Alpesh Thakore to reach out to their base. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena supremo Raj Thackeray is among the most discussed politicians on the platform, though he, like Modi, hasn’t joined the platform yet. So is Raj’s uncle, the late Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray, whose sixth death anniversary on November 17 saw a flurry of tributerelated activity on the platform.



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