Divya Spandana, actor turned politician and former MP from Mandya in Karnataka from Congress spoke at length about the challenges facing the Congress party in her home state Karnataka. The state will go to polls on 12th May and Congress is pitched in triangular fight with JD-S and resurgent BJP. Divya Spandana is the reason behind turn-around of Congress fortune on the social media. She said that fake news is a problem but people in-charge of big social media platforms are themselves politically aligned which makes it difficult to contain rough edges of social media.Q: How serious is the issue of fake news in Karnataka?A: Fake news is a serious issue and we know how it can elect politicians like Donald Trump and Narendra Modi. We are trying to counter it in Karnataka. BJP does it in every elections. We saw it in Gujarat elections where Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a statement against the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Even as a whisper campaign was launched against Ahmed Patel that he would be made Chief Minister of the state. So, we know how much damage a fake news campaign can do and lot of that is being done in Karnataka also.Also readKarnataka Assembly Elections 2018: Siddaramaiah’s ticket distribution upsets Congress’s state loyalistsQ: Are you aware of the campaign which the Facebook has launched in Karnataka to curb fake news on its website?A: It is a commendable effort but I’m also bit wary as I know that people who head Facebook have political leanings and they are part of the RSS and also worked for the 2014 Narendra Modi campaign. I’m not sure as to how credible is this but I followed BOOM in the past and I’m sure that they are doing a quite a good job so it is in right direction but how much credibility Facebook can lend to this is questionable.Q: What are the challenges before Congress in this election?A: We are talking about development and our achievement of the Congress Party in the state but BJP has nothing to talk about their contribution as a party ruling at the Centre. There are no jobs and economy is in the crisis. But what they do in every election is to drag us into fake propaganda, controversies and Hindutva conversation as much as we try to keep away from it. They want to keep us on our feet on these issues and it is a big challenge. They don’t want us to talk about issues as they have no contributions to talk about.Q: What are you campaign highlights?A: We will talk about development but you have to see the way people consume news today. Fake news and gossip travels much faster. If I’m talking about development and achievements of the Congress Party and how it has benefited the people, the traction is much less so we have to find innovative ways to communicate with people as mode of consumption of news has changed. Also read: In battle for Karnataka, the Vokkaliga fix may complicate Congress campaignQ: How are you tailoring your social media campaign in Karnataka?A: Karnataka is number one in so many areas ranging from technology to women empowerment. So, those will be our talking points. For example schemes like Ksheera Bhagya and Anna Bhagya which have immensely benefited the people will be highlighted.Q: Ticket distribution has been much of a spoiler as senior leaders of party have revolted and spoken against the Congress High CommandA: This is how it is going to be in politics. People have their chances in politics and now other people need to be given the chance. So, there will be some kind of discontent and it would especially happen when you are trying to make some sort of a change. It will create friction. I’m not going to make a big deal out of it.Also Read: Karnataka Assembly Elections 2018: Siddaramaiah’s ticket distribution upsets Congress’s state loyalistsQ: What is your plan to tackle BJP on social media? Like BJP used WhatsApp as a platform tool to campaign and mobilise.A: What do you do when PM himself spreads fake news.Q: This is a big charge to make Divya.A: What do you mean? Didn’t PM make that statement against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that he has ties with Pakistan? They don’t need WhatsApp and Twitter when they have PM to spread fake news. He made allegations which had no basis at all.Q: Despite political parties talking about social development, both BJP and Congress are seen to be making rounds of religious institutions?A: It is because it is an important part of our culture and community so it is important to reach out to them.
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