Network18 and Google announced a joint initiative to help connect prominent politicians with voters across the country. The partnership involves a series of Google Hangouts with politicians titled ‘In conversation". First in the series will be ArunJaitley, Leader of the Opposition in RajyaSabha, who will be addressing voters live via a Hangout session on March 25.
The LokSabha elections 2014 have been acknowledged to be the first in the nation’s history that will be extensively discussed, debated and fought on social media platforms, including Google Hangouts and YouTube. The Hangout series will involve politicians such as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee, Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, NCP President SharadPawar, noted economist Jairam Ramesh and social activist Anna Hazare, discussing key topics and issues on the voters’ minds.
Announcing the partnership, RajanAnandan, VP and Managing Director, Google Indiasaid, “India is a politically vibrant country, and the 2014 general elections promises to be a landmark in the history of this nation – it marks the beginning of political parties and candidates embracing Internet to reach out to an educated and digitally savvy group of young and potential voters. We are very excited to partner with Network18 to provide our users with all the information they need and engage the leaders of the country on Google products.”
Ajay Chacko, COO, Network18 added here, “At Network18, as a leading editorial voice in the country, we have always focused on ideas and initiatives that encourage our citizens to participate and engage. ‘In Conversation’ is another milestone in this direction and it assumes greater significance given the 200 million+ fast-growing, highly aware digital audience that is shaping the agenda during these elections. We are happy to partner with Google in this pioneering effort and are confident that this will serve our audiences well.”
Speaking on the partnership, RajdeepSardesai, Editor-in-Chief, IBN18 Network said, "Perhaps more than any other election in the past, these elections are about capturing the imagination of millions of both first-time as well as experienced voters. And it is evident that the frontier of this battle is online. ‘In Conversation’ is a landmark because it meshes the power of digital with the impact of a town hall.”
Making full use of the power of social media and understanding the importance of getting real time feedback from the citizens of the country, Indian politicians have increasingly started using social media platforms such as Google+ to reach out to the netizens. In 2012, Gujarat Chief MinisterNarendraModiwas the first Indian public figure to use Hangouts to reach out to his audience. A number of politicians, including ArvindKejriwal of AamAadmi Party (AAP), Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, HRD Minister ShashiTharoor and others have used Google+ Hangouts to connect with the Indian citizens.