Didi signs in Sabeer Bhatia to net voters

Mar 14 2011, 09:24 IST
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Bhatia flanked by Derek O’Brien (left) and Abhisek Banerjee, nephew of Mamata Banerjee, in Kolkata on Sunday. Express Bhatia flanked by Derek O’Brien (left) and Abhisek Banerjee, nephew of Mamata Banerjee, in Kolkata on Sunday. Express
SummaryThe Trinamool Congress has roped in entrepreneur and Hotmail founder Sabeer Bhatia.

To give a hi-tech touch to the party’s poll campaign, the Trinamool Congress has roped in entrepreneur and Hotmail founder Sabeer Bhatia. The party leadership hopes his inclusion will appeal to the Gen Y voters, who constitute a major chunk of the electorate.

On Sunday afternoon, at the behest of Derek O’Brien, Bhatia visited Mamata Banerjee’s Kalighat home to share some of his ideas with her. Leader of the Opposition Partha Chatterjee and O’Brien were also present.

“People of West Bengal are working for a change and I am here to share some of my ideas for better communication,” said Bhatia, emerging from the meeting. “The more an organisation becomes cyber savvy, the better it can reach out to people.”

Besides reaching out to voters online, he will help the Trinamool cyber team , which includes two IIM students to build an interactive interface for the party. He is helping them develop a portal through which people will be able to interact directly with Trinamool through cellphone.

When it came to being tech savvy, Trinamool was lagging far behind the CPM. But lately, the party website has been updated and its leaders are trying to learn more about the Internet.

“We always try to be modern,” said Chatterjee. “We have our own cyber team. He will help us with experience and insights.”

Apart from developing the party website, allindiatrinamoolcongress.org, the cyber team will also oversee the net and SMS campaigns.

The Trinamool’s cyber team includes IIM Kolkata students Hariharan Sriram and Mansha Tandon, who had offered to help out the party during the campaign.

“A survey has revealed that for every 100 people in West Bengal, there are 110 mobile phones on an average,” said O’Brien. “So we are trying to reach out to the electorate through cellphones. This way, the leadership can get inputs directly from the people. Our effort is also to be as interactive as possible on Internet and he (Sabeer Bhatia) will guide us in that direction.”

Bhatia was a student of Caltech and Stanford University before joining Apple. He launched Hotmail in 1996, which subsequently became the most popular net-based e-mail in the world and made headlines when Microsoft bought it over for $400 million in December 1997.

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