Internet campaigns and news sites are mushrooming across the Internet prior to the General Elections 2009. Whether it is an attempt to superficially duplicate Barack Obama’s successful online campaigning or if it really signals a change in the mindset of our politicos who now want to connect with the young, literate and Internet-savvy generation, we do not know yet. Here are a few interesting launches focussed on the upcoming Lok Sabha elections:

News Sites

CNN-IBN has launched a news site IBNPolitics.com to provide updates during elections and encourage live blogs and chats on the election. The site has some news in Hindi as well.

The press information bureau has launched a micro site for the benefit of journalists covering the general elections this year.

CNN-IBN had organised a blog contest after the Gujarat assembly elections in 2007, inviting opinions on Narendra Modi. It recorded over 1000 participants, according to this report.

Communities

– Times of India, in partnership with Wadanatodo, Radio Mirchi and public interest campaign NoCriminals, has launched Lead India ’09. The site features blogs, communities and contests based on the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Times Internet‘s social networking site iTimes, still in Beta, is the brand partner for Lead India ’09.

– VoteIndia.in is a website that helps voters make an informed choice by e-mailing them information on politicians’ qualifications, work, track record and criminal background. The site owners have also uploaded videos on Youtube – the English video is here and the Hindi one here.

Jaago Re! features information on voting, issues, blogs, election news, videos and downloads to encourage citizens to shake away their apathy towards the political system and vote. Initially established by Tata Tea, the site is now backed by Pranthakatha, Pria, Radio One, Yahoo India and Mid-Day. The site has launched a campaign in partnership with NGO Janaagraha to drive awareness on voting.

– Election news will also come via microbloggers on Twitter, which was used by thousands to track and report on Barack Obama’s progress as a presidential candidate. It looks like the Twitter comminity has selected the hastag #IndiaVotes for everyone to use, so you can track it here

Politicians Go Online

LK Advani‘s campaign went online this year, with banner ads advertising his site and blog. His website, launched November, and the blog, launched in January, together draw 60,000 unique visitors daily, according to Mint. His online campaign was through India. EZCampaigns.com a site that allows politicians to upload their ad campaigns and even offers a Money Back guarantee! It also created Chandrababu Naidu‘s website. Considering that there are only 5.65 million broadband subscribers in India, such a strategy will not make a sea change when votes are counted. So what is the reason behind their Internet presences? And, ofcourse, who wants to bet that the blogs will be abandoned once the election ends.

Will the Congress follow the move by BJP onto the world wide web? Maybe Rahul Gandhi ought to get a website. Remember  ex-president APJ Kalam’s website, and his powerpoint presentations?