Suu Kyi wins Myanmar polls sans social media


New Delhi: With Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) cruising to victory in Myanmar polls, the citizens are eagerly waiting for a peaceful transfer of power.

The Union Election Commission said the National League for Democracy (NLD) party had crossed the 329 threshold of seats needed for an outright majority in both houses of the 664-member parliament.

With 21 lower house seats on Friday, the tally for NLD stood at 348 seats with 82.9 per cent of the votes confirmed.

Despite Suu Kyi winning the free vote in 1990, the military usurped the power and house arrested her for nearly 20 years.

In the era of hashtags, Twitter handles and Facebook trends, elections battlegrounds have shifted to a new platform. Besides fighting it on the battlefield, elections are also fought on social media platforms.

The new-age trend began with Barack Obama using social media as a strategic weapon for his campaign strategy in 2008. The growing trend of using social media migrated to Myanmar’s neighboring country India in 2014 when Narendra Modi’s online brigade played a crucial role in parliamentary polls.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi efficiently used social media for his electoral campaigns. And the social media platforms did give his candidature a huge boost. Reportedly there were 58 million tweets in 2014 relating to Modi’s campaign.

However, Suu Kyi who is considered a global leader, does not have a Twitter account. In the modern era where social media is on a rampage to help people to create a consensus, Suu Kyi relied on her dynamic personality and her works to garner support from her countrymen.

In the annals of contemporary political struggles, Suu Kyi’s journey to freedom and resurgence of her political career is laudable. Nearly two decades of house imprisonment and frequent crackdown by the ‘junta’, did not deter her from her political journey.  With her able leadership, she proved to be an embodiment of hope and better future.

It is obvious that a person of Suu Kyi’s stature does not need any social media for campaigning. Her traditional way of campaigning was enough to secure a landslide victory. However, as results of the polls poured in, her followers tweeted them, so did some notable global leaders.

While Obama and Modi had to initiate campaigning themselves, Suu Kyi’s enticing works compelled others to tweet from their accounts and congratulate her.

However, Twitter cited security concerns and barred Obama from owning an account. The same may be true for Suu Kyi as she was in a country ravaged by frequent coups, civil wars, and rights violations. Moreover, the reach of internet is poor in Myanmar so campaigning via social media platforms would not have borne satisfactory results.

Furthermore, the people were tired of the autocratic rule and rights violation and the change in power was imminent. Monitored by global watchdogs, the free, fair, election showed that it’s the people who decide the fate of leaders on real platforms and not on virtual ones.

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