India's political parties are embracing the Internet in a big way to woo voters for next year's national elections.
And the reason is simple: Tech-savvy young voters who are less inclined to attend rallies than their elders will make up the biggest chunk of voters. There will be 378.6 million voters in the 18-35 age range or close to 50 per cent out of a total voting population of 762 million, of whom 150 million will be first-time voters.
India's voting age is 18.
"This election is different. For the first time in India, the youth constitute a large chunk of voters. They are not the types who want to come for rallies and therefore as a political party we have to reach out to them," said Mrs Nirmala Sitaraman, spokesman for the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, which is going out of its way to woo young voters.
So whereas in the past political parties were content to pay for news in newspapers that put them in a good light, they are now setting up their own campaign websites, starting YouTube channels and using crowdsourcing to publicise their campaigns.
The Delhi-based Aam Admi party has set up a YouTube channel to highlight its campaign activities even as it is looking at a more traditional medium of publicity: launching an eight-page newspaper.
BJP has launched a website called India 272+ Towards Majority, in a reference to the number of parliamentary seats it needs to win the elections. It is also using crowdsourcing to get feedback from people on its campaign.
The BJP website has blogs, daily updates and articles on the party and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
"We are also into crowdsourcing, where through a particular URL, we are collecting inputs to prepare a charge sheet (list of charges) against the Congress," said Mrs Sitaraman, referring to the ruling Congress party.