Low tele-density hits parties’ plan to reach voters ahead of Bihar polls

With tele-density in the state being very poor, political parties in Bihar are finding it difficult to reach out to its electors and associate with them digitally and disseminate its ‘crucial’ message ahead of the elections.

Acknowledging the issue, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar had recently directed the officials to inform the masses, particularly youths, about authentic and credible information through official channels, as fake and fraudulent messages were doing the rounds aplenty.

In keeping with deteriorating dele-density (user of phone by per 100 persons in certain area), political parties are depending heavily on virtual rallies so that the electors can see their leaders live on large screens addressing them in their vicinity ahead of the assembly elections during the pandemic phase.

A telecom expert, who heads a private telecom firm, said that reaching out to electors and political activists through mobile apps in Bihar is not that easy for political masters, as tele-density of Bihar happened to be the lowest in the country. “As per the latest report of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), tele-density of Bihar has been assessed to be 52.54% against the national average of 86.15%,” he said.

Anand Madhav, chairman of the state Congress’s manifesto committee and is also coordinating the party’s digital membership drive, said his party’s digital operation was facing technical issues as about 27-30% people in Bihar have smartphones.

State Congress chief Madan Mohan Jha said that the party’s digital drive to associate fresh members could have been faster had the state been blessed with better telecom accessibility. “There is a perceptible dearth of phone users in rural areas. Network problem is another factor that is affecting the membership drive,” said Jha.

Janata Dal (United) spokesman Rajiv Ranjan Prasad and BJP spokesman Nikhil Anand said that the state had been grappling with lower tele-density since long. “There are limitations of each type of technology. Hence, we have planned a series of virtual rallies. As far as membership is concerned, we have kept both digital as well as offline systems open,” said Prasad, adding that the pandemic phase would lead to higher number of mobile users in the state.

BJP spokesman Anand said that the party relied mostly on manual processes for credibility in membership, which was over a year ago. “To reduce the online operations, all requests for membership through digital modes are documented and recorded in papers. Active members are mandated to fill up forms manually,” said the BJP leader.

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