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Farmers harness ‘e-power’ to drum up support

Express News Service

MYSURU: It’s war on a tech platform. With farmers and their protests often drowned out by crafty social media bombast, the Raitha Sangha and 32 other like-minded organisations are setting up their own IT cell for a say in the high-stakes bypoll battle in Sira and RR Nagar.

Taking a leaf out of the BJP’s playbook, the organisations, under the umbrella of Aikya Horatta Samiti, are hoping to garner support against the farm and land ordinances, and educate voters on the BJP’s policies. The cell is being run by a group of 18 volunteers, including three full-timers who are managing an arsenal of over 250 WhatsApp groups and over 5,000 Facebook pages.

However, unlike the usual IT cell chatter which often revolves around blame games and whataboutery, this group focuses on the implications of farm laws and the Essential Commodities Act. Ravi Mohan, activist and fulltimer at the group, told TNIE that they make clips of videos that expose wrong claims about the farm laws, draw up explainers, create posters and memes.

He said the initiative was started during the recent massive protests by farmers, and was intensified with elections as the aim. The group claims influence over a sizable chunk of voters since the constituencies, especially RR Nagar, has over 50,000 voters who hail from villages in Mandya, Kanakapura and Kunigal.

“There are over 4,500 women from Mandya working as domestic helps in the constituency who are our primary audience,” said Badagalpura Nagendra, Raitha Sangha president, citing their own voter survey. He added that attempts are being made to make others aware too that such ordinances hurt their wallets too. “It is not just a farmer issue, look at the price of vegetables and other commodities, many don’t know that it’s happened due to amendments in the Essential Commodities Act,” he said.

Nagendra said their aim is to teach the BJP a lesson in the elections, and make them realize their apathy towards the concerns of farmers. However, he clarified that they will not favour any candidate in the elections, as it would negate their struggle. The organisations are also slated to hold mega rallies in the constituencies, with leaders like Michael Fernandes, brother of former Union minister George Fernandes, and others in the coming days, along with door-to-door visits.

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