Dubbed as an amateurish gang of wishful attention seekers in the last Assembly Elections, Aam Aadmi Party has definitely jolted some and stirred many. Witnessing a landslide victory in the 2015 assembly elections, AAP’s victory could be accredited to its one of a kind campaign which was primarily based out of social media.
Today we are in conversation with Ankit Lal, the Operational Head for social media talking about the strategies used in branding and re-branding of Aam Aadmi Party with the frugal amount of campaign donations they had; turning it one of the most exceptional victories of the time.
Ishika: Hi, Ankit it’s a pleasure to be doing this interview with you. Thank you for taking out the time. To begin, let’s talk about your association with Aam Aadmi Party. What has your role been so far?
Ankit: I was a part of the formation process of AAP and I have been with India Against Corruption (IAC) since April 2011, when the andolan started gaining traction. I was part of the process that deliberated what to do next and how to take this thing forward. I am a founding member of Aam Aadmi Party, so since day 1, I have been associated with it.
Ishika: When Arvind Kejriwal resigned after being the Chief Minister of Delhi for 49 days, the public lost faith in him as their leader. This consequently had an adverse effect on his public image as well. What do you think went wrong and what did you do to rectify it?
Ankit: It didn’t happen immediately. That was something that was put in the mind of people by the media and other parties over a period of time. Immediately after Arvind resigned, the sentiment was not anti-him. It was like what has happened? People were questioning. What happened was that we were not able to provide the right answers and other people provided the wrong answers to those questions.
Ishika: Aam Aadmi’s party funding has always been a matter of scrutiny for both the party and general public. How important do you think social media has been for you bring about transparency and also motivate further donations?
Ankit: We are a party which is short of cash. So, social media was a way through which we could organically reach the target audience that we had. The news that is being created on social media gets percolated onto traditional media and the newspapers. So that’s why social media was an easy target, something that we could use with the frugal amount of money we had and it worked for us.
Ishika: When Kejriwal left office last year, several negatively connoted hashtags were doing the rounds on the Internet such as #Mufflerman but you managed to spin it off in a positive manner in just a few months. How did you make it happen?
Ankit: The Indian audience still needs to mature a lot. Humour is not understood as well as it should be by the Indian audience. So, that is something that will grow as we proceed. The Viral Fever and All India Backchod had been approaching us for quite a while, and then of course Kiran Bedi played a great role in our victory.
There were questions that were on people’s mind and we wanted to answer to them. So we found various ways to answer these questions. One of them was through hashtags and the other through Facebook videos. Similarly, #Mufflerman was a volunteer driven campaign. It was being used by BJP from September end onwards to October. Then one of our volunteers came up with the idea that let’s do something positive about it.
Ishika: Now that Arvind Kejriwal has become the Chief Minister of Delhi, what are you planning to do next? What are the steps you will be taking to maintain the stature you have built so far?
Ankit: We plan to improve on the image that we have created so far. In the next few months we will take this forward and try and see how exactly we can social media an enabler for people to reach out to government as such. This is a target that I have in mind. I would also encourage the DU students to use social media as a tool for change rather than just for fun.