Talking “Politics” on social media is no more dirty and boring for Sikkimese youths. Everyday more and more Sikkimese people are joining social networking sites and discussing numerous issues on Facebook. The social media platform has given voice to the youths of Sikkim through which they can publicly pour out their views on Sikkim’s politics and as well as other social issues. Different Facebook groups of Sikkim has their own tastes. Some, dedicated to a particular topic for discussion while some open for sharing and discussing on any subject, are now becoming popular among the Sikkimese users.
Sikkimfirst and Voice of Sikkimese People are two most popular and active Facebook groups at present. Members of these groups everyday come up with new and fresh topics for discussion.
“This is the age of new media and Sikkimese youths are using it to their full strength and it is great that the youths are talking about politics and society on Facebook. They should understand politics as they are the future of the state and a healthy democracy needs young politically aware voters,” says a 48-year-old school teacher from Gangtok, who himself is an active user of Facebook.
Naresh and his friends are members of these groups for over a year now and they find them very informative and democratic. “Before joining these groups me and my friends used to discuss contemporary issues during weekend’s get-togethers but now on regular basis we not only discuss but also get to know the views of the other users. We also interact with strangers, often argue with them on many political topics and what more you need in a democratic society!” says Naresh.
The amount of political posts and youth participation has increased after Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) has come into existence. “The newly joined members of SKM chose Facebook to spread the word about their political thinking. But as we know that Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) is a 20-year-old party with huge support-base, so the followers of SDF started challenging SKM followers for open debates on political issues,” tells one of the regular visitors of such groups, who likes to read posts and comments on these groups but never gets involved himself into it. “ To prove their point I often see SKM supporters use foul language and that pissed me of from taking part in the discussions”, he added.
SDF supporters also alleged that SKM fans used unsuitable words on Facebook. Priya says, “They (SKM supporters) hardly have issues to discuss upon. For years SDF and Chamling Sir (Pawan Chamling) are doing great work and his list of achievements is endless. So when we start questioning them or countering their attacks, they often start misbehaving.”
While SKM and PS Golay supporters allege that they are often provoked by SDF supporters.
“They have no patience. They get provoked easily and start showing their real colour,” says Narayan, a SDF supporter.
If one visit these Facebook groups it is visible that most of them are full of interesting political posts and comments. In one such post, PS Golay and Pawan Chamling’s photos are made appeared together. The photo also has a caption which says “Like for Golay and Comment for Chamling”. Some posts consists of only photographs shared to inform about public meetings by political parties while the rest are simple posts praising their own party and leaders, or accusing each other.
Apart from SDF and SKM supporters we hardly find supporters of other parties taking active part in political discussions. But posts in these groups are not always political. Some posts urgently requesting a particular blood group, members show-casing there photographic skills and occasional greetings during festivals are also visible here. But politics rule the wall.
Clearly Facebook has become a new battleground for the supporters of different political parties in Sikkim. As of now the supporters of SDF are leading the game.
Donggala, Sulawesi Tengah
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