Admitting that its online connect with the people has not been “up to the mark”, the Bengal leadership of the Communist Party of India-Marxist has decided to ramp up the party’s presence on social media. The social media presence of the CPI(M) is so low that even expelled party MP Ritabrata Banerjee has more followers (34,007) than the party State secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra (28,002) on microblogging site Twitter. The party is trying to correct it but not by spending a huge sum, party sources said.CPI(M) sources said that the State leadership is planning to set up social media teams at the area committee level and wants to reach out to at least 80% of the people in the State before the Lok Sabha elections using social media. Area committees have replaced the erstwhile local committees.“CPI(M)’s social media presence in Bengal has not been up to the mark. We have lagged far behind the Trinamool Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party in this regard,” a CPI(M) State committee member told The Hindu.He added that so far CPI(M)’s effort to set up social media teams at the area committee level has been limited to mainly district towns and Kolkata. “For instance in Kolkata out of the 53 area committees, social media teams have been set up only in about 13 area committees,” he said.Unlike the TMC and BJP, the CPI(M) has not been able to rope in information technology professionals to revamp its social media activity due to paucity of funds and is instead relying on tech-savvy young party members and sympathisers, the State committee member said.‘Can’t copy others’CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and MP Md. Salim, who oversees the party’s social media operations in Bengal, said that the State leadership recently held detailed discussions over the issue.“We are aiming at enrolling more volunteers and providing them with proper training so that they can reach out to more people. However, we are facing some problems due to lack of funds,” said Mr. Salim. He also said that the party has been unable to provide any equipment such as computers and smartphones to its social media volunteers who have to depend on their own resources.Mr. Salim admitted that so far the party has been unable to conduct social media operations in a centralised manner and doesn’t even have a record of the number of social media volunteers for the CPI(M) in Bengal.Asked why several senior CPI(M) leaders such as Polit Bureau member Biman Basu are not on social media, Mr. Salim said “we work as a party and not as an individual”.“Why should Biman Basu copy Narendra Modi or Mamata Banerjee who only want publicity?” he saidParty sources said that the State leadership wants to counter the “false propaganda” of TMC and BJP on social media as well as highlight the party’s views on significant political developments in the State.
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