Panaji, July 21 : Battered in the Lok Sabha polls and wracked by dissent, the Congress in Goa has taken to social media to source questions to be raised during Goa assembly session which begins Tuesday. An appeal and subsequent follow ups posted by Facebook by the Goa Congress for issues and questions to be raised in the monsoon session has thrown up issues related to the home department and the health ministry, according to Goa party president John Fernandes.
The thrust on social media has also helped the party save significantly on the phone bill, according to him. “The Congress was lagging a bit behind in social media compared to our rivals. Almost 90 percent of the educated class in Goa is on social media, so to target this audience we had to do this,” Fernandes told IANS. Congress organizing secretary Durgadas Kamat, who has been anchoring the social media initiative, claims that reaching out to the public via social media to source issues and questions confronting them was the first such concerted effort — and the results have been handsome.
“I assume this is the first time across India, that any Congress unit has sought questions from the general public as part of a concerted social media campaign. We have got good feedback,” Kamat says. Asked about the issues which were red flagged by Facebook users, Kamat said the questions sent in involved shortcomings of the home department and mismanagement in the health sector.
“Facebook users have even given us categorical information about private company representatives selling orthopedic equipment within the area of Goa Medical College (Goa’s only medical college hospital run by the state), which we will raise vociferously during the session,” Kamat said. He said the questions received from the public will be fielded on the floor of the by Aleixo Reginaldo, Congress legislator from Curtorim.
The new social media outreach may actually save the blushes for the party, especially at a time when the Congress has been suffering from infighting and frequent tussles between the party’s state unit and the Congress legislative party. “Our Facebook page is in place. We have put the SMS system for media… (All this) has helped us in cutting costs vis-a-vis the phone bills at the Congress office,” Fernandes said. The Congress has nine legislators while the BJP has 21 in the 40 member Goa assembly.