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Election Tracker: Does positive sentiment for BSP on Twitter mean an upset in UP polls?

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Election Tracker: Does positive sentiment for BSP on Twitter mean an upset in UP polls?

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) saw a marked increase in positive sentiment last week, with a total positive sentiment of 23.93 per cent and negative comments only accounting for 1.99 per cent of the total mentions the party received. This is the highest among any of the other parties and, in fact, even among individual party leaders, though Congress was a close second with 23.63 per cent positive mentions. Even in the previous week, BSP had 15 per cent positive mentions, more than BJP, AAP and Congress. This is despite (or perhaps due to) the fact that BSP is not the most widely spoken of parties on Twitter.

The BSP, according to analysts, has emerged as a preferred choice for certain minority voters in areas of UP still haunted by the Muzaffarnagar riots. It should also be remembered that UP went to polls on April 10 and a pre-poll survey carried out jointly by Lokniti, CSDS-IBN suggested that the poor handling of the riots might cost the ruling Samajwadi Party a “considerable share” of the Muslim votes. With UP a key state for any party with ambitions of ruling at the centre, BJP has been aggressively campaigning in the state, though a report suggested that BSP might still be preferred to some minority voters. Does the high positive sentiment that BSP has seen last couple of weeks an indication of this trend?

Among the other parties, BJP was clearly the gainer with a marked increase in positive sentiment and reach, while both Congress and AAP saw a dip in favourability. The last couple of weeks have seen BJP and Modi take a hit due to a number of controversies. However, the PM candidate was back to dominant ways with his highest approval ratings since January.

Sentiments around political parties in the week
Though Narendra Modi has consistently been on top of the rankings as per Simplify360’s SSI rankings, his favourability scores have fluctuated a great deal. However, this week seemed to see a lot of positive sentiment around Modi, with a 6 point jump in favourability over last week, which saw his score end at 83, the highest among all politicians for the second week running. Also worthy of attention was that pro-Modi tweets accounted for 18.74% (a massive increase from last week’s 14%) of all tweets mentioning Narendra Modi, while negative tweets were marginally down to 3.68%. Compare this with the positive/negative tweets for other leaders; Rahul Gandhi (14.85%/3.55%), Arvind Kejriwal (13.36%/5.22%), Sonia Gandhi (11.76%/2.13%) and Manmohan Singh (8.61%/3.78%).

Where, last week (and even in the preceding couple of weeks) the BJP had to face the ire of people due to a number of issues like the inclusion of Pramod Muthalik (a step that the party retracted on within hours due to the severe backlash on social media) and the controversy over the alleged tampering of EVMs in Assam (an incident that led to the emergence of the trending hashtag #BJPRIGGEDEVM), this week’s rise of popular sentiment could be alluded to the popularity of hashtags like #WeWantModi and #ModiManifesto, as seen by the graph below.

Meanwhile, Arvind Kejriwal, the founder of AAP, also known as the ‘Twitter party’, due to its early surge in popularity through social media platforms is now experiencing how swiftly public opinion can now turn against one. His overall favourability fell from 76% to 71% and incidents like the most recent slap did not really help matters. The hashtag #Slappedagain received 35K mentions in the week, though on a more positive note for the party, #IStandWithArvind garnered 1,21,000 mentions.

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