It’s a battle for screen time once more. If during the 2014 general election, news apps ruled your mobile screens, this time the war is being fought among poll and political apps. From Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official NaMo app to those from the Election Commission, there are apps to do virtually everything related to the upcoming poll but vote.

Political parties’ social media cells, too, are in top gear, spreading campaign messages and ditties about the opposition. “Smartphone penetration has gone up by almost 20% in the past five years leading to an entirely new demographic joining political conversation on social media. Political parties love this as social media enables them to set the narrative and directly unload it on the voter, taking away the ‘inconvenience’ of fact-checking that would otherwise accompany a public broadcast,” Pratham Mittal, who founded the Neta app to rate leaders, tells Fortune India.

After the Election Commission announced the schedule for the 2019 poll, most apps have seen a surge in downloads.

The Neta app, for example, has seen an 18% surge in users, Mittal says. “Average weekly logins by politicians have also increased from 2,800 in December to 6,300 in February,” he adds. As the battle for the ballot draws closer, the war for screen time is well and truly on.

This was originally published in the Briefings section of the April, 2019 issue.

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