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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 February, 2004, 12:05 GMT
India's BJP targets new voters
By Abhishek Prabhat
BBC correspondent in Delhi

Pramod Mahajan
Pramod Mahajan says the BJP will not forget traditional campaign methods
India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has unveiled plans to attract the young and first time voters in this year's general elections.

The BJP's campaign manager Pramod Mahajan says an 'e-campaign' will target what he called the "new generation voters".

The BJP will use music television channels, FM radio, mobile phones and e-mail to spread its message.

The elections, to be held in four phases, are likely to begin in April.

Electronic messages

The BJP estimates that some 150 million of India's 600 million voters have access to phones, television and the internet.

Atal Behari Vajpayee addresses Muslims
Voters will be able to download Mr Vajpayee's pictures on cell phones

The party says targeting this section could swing a large number of seats in its favour.

To begin with, a call centre has been set up and details collected of the 72 million phone connections in the country.

These include 46 million fixed and 26 million mobile phones.

The party plans to play a message by the Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee seeking votes over the phone.

"The aim is to let the prime minister speak to all the eligible voters", Mr Mahajan told journalists in Delhi.

Voters with mobile phones will also be able to download ring tones of BJP's anthem and photographs of Mr Vajpayee.

And they will have the opportunity to listen to Mr Vajpayee reciting his own poems.

Campaign executives have prepared a database of nearly 20 million e-mail addresses for the latest party news.

Mr Mahajan said a dedicated campaign website portal would be set-up soon to serve as a virtual campaign office for the BJP.

The website would talk about "Feel Good" - the BJP's campaign slogan and include party's election manifesto and details of its policies.

Mr Mahajan says this is the most ambitious use ever of technology in an Indian election.

"All those who follow us would hence be called copy-cats", he said.

However, Mr Mahajan said the e-campaign would not be a substitute to the traditional door-to-door campaigning and public meetings.

He did not reveal how much the party would spend on this campaign.

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