Election fever is spreading like never before amongst the Indian media online. With the 15th Indian general elections scheduled for April-May, Indian digital media companies have launched “Election special” websites to track the polls with maps and statistics, blogs by public figures, RSS updates and interactive features. Here are some of the websites for the season:

In India…

Yahoo India launched in.elections.Yahoo.com to provide latest news updates and track the election schedule through the states. Users can also use it to write their own manifesto, participate in opinion polls, share their views on various leaders and constituencies and read columns on politics sourced from newspapers like Indian Express and Hindustan Times. The site promises more features soon – manifesto comparisons of various political parties and comic strips.

The Hindu’s Elections 2009 microsite offers a selection of articles, interviews where users can comment. It also has documents, statistics and graphs related to the elections but why have they have been put up just as plain-vanilla downloads rather than displayed to viewers?

Probably the most comprehensive and one-stop shop site on the topic is IBN Live’s IBNPolitics.com. It offers RSS updates on election news, blogs by politicos such as Yeddyurappa and even personalities such as Nandan Nilkenani, Sri Sri Ravishankar and Kiran Bedi. A new section called Video debate on the site has been able to entice responses from webcam-enabled visitors on manifestos, Varun Gandhi and the third front. Allowing them to bypass registrations and directly comment was a smart move by the site. It has also attempted to using the collective power of netizens to create a comprehensive database of poll booths across the country. Reporters from its Hindi news site IBN Khabar have also contributed blogs that can be viewed in Hindi.

NDTV’s India Decides 2009 also has videos, news, blogs, forums, polls and something called Virtual Elections where users can express their views in lengthy speeches and float their own “virtual party”. Over 50 users have taken to this concept and have published what they would accomplish with their own party, complete with a manifesto and how they would implement it. Maybe some of our politicians can refer to them.

Sify’s microsite has news, columns, trivia, games and images of the elections. It has dedicated microsites for BJP and Congress and even one special tab for Varun Gandhi called ‘The Other Gandhi’!

The absence of an elections special microsite by Rediff.com is also surprising. If you find it, do let us know.

The New Indian Express only has a minimalistic Elections tab within its website that displays latest articles.

The Elections ’09 special on The Times of India is called the Dance of Democracy – it has a calendar with the poll dates, an interesting facts compilation called Did You Know?, party manifestos and – most importantly – videos.

Advani’s face is all over DNA’s Elections microsite which has debates and lets you also see which were the most popular and shared articles on it.

….and Abroad

BBC News is covering our political drama too and it has a Quick Guide article on the scenario. It has, for some reason, links to all the websites of political parties and even the election commission.

In Indic Languages

Dainik Jagran’s Mahasamar 2009 carries news, articles on issues and the voting system in Hindi. Dainik Bhaskar’s bold Mera Vote Mera Desh site has profiles of our netajis, news, polls and jokes. There is one debate on the site – Vad Vivaad – which allows users to post in Hindi with the option of phonetic or script transliteration.

OneIndia.in has multiple election microsites – in Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and English.

Politics Is Business

Pink papers are also tracking the business of politics closely. Business Standard’s microsite has news, interviews and even carries ANI’s video coverage of politics via its Video section. It also invites readers to post their opinions in a column called Citizen’s Blog.

Economic Times has 2 sites – one that offers news, analysis and a map of the subcontinent that offers relevant regional development data such as the voting population per state, literacy rate, etc. Another that is meant for readers – the interactive Your Voice 2009, which allows users to read and react. It has a list of issues the country faces, stances by political parties and lets users ask its editors any questions they may have about the upcoming elections.

Blogs & Videos

Mint has a blogs  section called Have You Heard which has interesting tidbits from those covering the election trail.

We happened across Thirdfront.in – a satirical blog on the party by Greniyum, which also runs OneIndia.in.

Zee News’ Mypopkorn.com has also launched a microsite to track the elections via video.

Advertising

The election is also contributing to online advertising growth – political parties are rushing online to advertise. Calling it an encouraging trend in the new age media, Pearl Uppal, the sales director at Yahoo! India said that several have approached Yahoo India. “Political parties and advertisers have come of age and are now actively looking at the digital medium to reach the youth audience, a key demographic for them,” he said. We have all seen the BJP’s flood of ads, but did you see Sonia Gandhi’s?