Users will have to do is dial *325# from their mobile to access Facebook and select the election menu (option 6), or directly dial *325*35# to access it. Using this free service, one can find out who the candidates in a constituency are and ‘like’ a candidate’s Facebook page from the same USSD menu.
The move is an interesting one especially since ADR has a MyNeta app for smartphones that provide the same information. With this move, they will be able to reach out to a larger audience. The smartphone app lets you compare background information of candidates contesting election and make an informed choice. The app also lets you see criminal, financial and educational information of your MP and MLA (Indian politicians). However, it will not let you ‘like’ Facebook pages.
When we tried out the service, it worked on Airtel network, but it did not on Vodafone. To make such a service work, it needs to work across all networks and that’s one area ADR needs to focus on. Established in 1999 by a group of professors from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad, ADR’s goal is to improve governance and strengthen democracy by continuous work in the area of electoral and political reforms.
*Disclosure from Nikhil Pahwa: I’m related to Jagdeep Chokkar, one of the founders of the Association for Democratic Reforms