Can selfies really convert to votes?

Candidates busy clicking selfies with voters but is it wooing young KeralaSree Santh/Facebook
news Wednesday, April 20, 2016 - 16:35

It is the season of selfies in Kerala. As the state gears up for the assembly polls next month, political parties and candidates are leaving no stone unturned to woo voters. And following a trend that caught up post the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, candidates here are riding the social media wave of which selfies seem to be an integral part.

Selfies of candidates, both old and new, with the public while campaigning can be found aplenty on social media. While social media does give exposure and reach to candidates and can play a crucial influencer, can selfies really convert to votes?

Oommen Chandy/Facebook

The News Minute got a few youngsters from the selfie generation to speak about the selfie trend and its use in the polling season.

For 22-year-old Milen Mathew John, it is just an alternative way to fascinate the public.

“I personally wouldn't care how many times they clicked a selfie with me. All that tells you is that he has a smartphone and knows how to take a selfie. Hardly tells you anything about the person,” says the communication student.

Though this is one way to reach out to a younger voter base that has grown up with the technology, it is the least of his concerns. “It's symbolic, just like the 'selfie with daughter’ campaign,” he adds.

Benoy C's selfie with Muhammed Mohsin

On the other hand, many may feel more comfortable to vote for someone they've personally interacted with, according to Deekshith Sree Kaimal, a 24-year old CA final year student.

For Deekshith, a selfie influences the person into feeling that they've bonded with the other person. “Narendra Modi is doing it with world leaders and its working,” he states. 

Manu Nair, one of the many people who had posted a selfie with a candidate on Facebook, had a different explanation for his photo.

“Of course I wouldn’t vote for a candidate just because I put up a picture with him. When you’re with a minister at an event for over 2 hours, obviously you’ll want to take a selfie with him. He is a minister and it’s not every day that you work with a minister,” he asserts. 

Binoy C, a B-tech student from Palakkad, is still proud about the selfie he clicked with Muhammad Mohsin, the LDF candidate of the constituency. “I am an ardent supporter of LDF and they’re right in adopting this means of campaigning. Selfie is the in-thing among the youth and parties use it to reach out to them”, he says. 

But when asked whether this “selfie” strategy would convert into votes at the polls, he answers in the negative. “When we see candidates trying to adopt methods to think and behave like us, we support them by clicking a selfie with them. But that does not mean everybody who took a selfie will vote for that candidate,” he states. 

He confessed that the selfie with Shafi Parambil, the UDF candidate from Palakkad constituency, was out of mere yearning.

Selfie with UDF candidate Jagadish; Jayasankar Urukunnu/Facebook

Friends of Jayasankar Urukunnu, a BJP supporter, were in for a shock after he uploaded a selfie with Jagadish, the UDF candidate contesting from Pathanapuram. Everybody was curious about whether he had shifted allegiance.

Following heavy criticism, he clarified that the selfie was not based on any political affiliation, but solely because Jagadish was a popular film actor. Jayasankar had also posted a selfie with Kummanam Rajashekharan, BJP candidate contesting from Vattiyoorkavu, in February.

23-year-old Anurag Dinesh said that he was happy that candidates were adopting new technology to campaign. “But I don’t think a selfie is exactly the right medium to adopt during campaigning. It is not a popularity contest, it is about analyzing what the candidate can do for me in the next 5 years”, he says.

So what is it that makes selfies so popular among candidates?

“Candidates use it to boost their image among the public and come off as approachable,” says Sandra Ann Kuriakose, an International Relations student.

It is, she adds, the most efficient way to get free positive publicity. Voting should be done based on reasoning rather than on an emotional note brought forward by a photo.

Pinarayi Vijayan/Facebook

While the usefulness of selfies to candidates remains to be seen, they continue to seem to be dangerous. Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Tuesday suffered minor injuries on his foot when a glass pane of a door broke as some youths rushed in to take a 'selfie' with him at the venue of a function, 24 km from Malappuram. 


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