In West Bengal’s volatile digital politics, in a little over a month, the ‘Banglar Gorbo Mamata’ Facebook page, which has over 2.7 million followers, has spent over Rs. 80 lakh on 90 Facebook ads, making the party the highest spender in the period between February 6 and March 7, 2021.
Chief Minister and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee’s initiatives directed by political consultant Prashant Kishor’s Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) is at the head of the race in ad spends on Facebook. Nearly a third or 30 percent of this spend was done in the last seven days between March 2 and March 8, 2021, when the page spent Rs. 2,289,436 on ads about social issues, elections, and politics on the platform. Between the first week of December and now the party has since spent Rs. 1.4 crore on Facebook ads.
In fact, most political parties have been spending substantially on Facebook. For the last one month, however, the highest spend on Facebook ads have been from Bengal with over Rs. 12,929,286 expended on the platform.
While TMC is the top spender on Facebook, BJP is a close second. The ‘Amar Poribar BJP Poribar’ page by BJP, too, is one of the bigger spenders from Bengal on Facebook. According to Facebook Ad Library, the party has spent Rs. 385,753 in the last 30 days. Another page by the party called ‘BJP West Bengal’ spent Rs. 216,853 during the same period.
Analysts watching the campaigns say the BJP uses other digital tools too to create “hyperlocal or ground connect” by leveraging User Generated Content besides dissemination of news and party messaging via messenger apps, such as WhatsApp, Telegram, FB Messenger, and now even Signal.
Facebook, meanwhile, has been drawing in substantial revenues from political ads, with BJP alone spending over Rs. 4.5 crore on political ads on Facebook in the last one year.