Thiruvananthapuram: As the countdown begins for the April 10 Lok Sabha polls, candidates on the campaign trail in Kerala have also turned to advanced chat options like 'WhatsApp' and 'Skype' to get connected with their voters, especially the Non-Resident Keralite community which comprises a strong vote bank in many parts of the state.
Those who use internet chat applications like 'Beyluxe messenger', a popular online voice and video chat programme, to seek votes from outside voters are also not less in number.
As candidates cannot appear in person in all outside-country poll campaigns, they rely on online chat options and messaging apps for 'delivering speeches' and 'interacting' with the NRK voters.
Cutting across political and ideological differences, online chat-rooms and internet communities are also being used to seek votes.
Senior CPI-M leader P K Sreemathi, who is trying her electoral luck from northern constituency of Kannur, said she communicates with NRK voters through Skype and online communities.
"I am already active in Facebook. Now, I am using Skype and online communities to get connected with the voters especially those in other countries. My son is helping me using such advanced options," Sreemathi told PTI.
She said she also "delivers" her speech through phone at election meetings conducted in other countries.
Besides CPI(M), many candidates of Congress and BJP are also active on online platforms.
Though they are away from the state, the election fever has also gripped the NRK community, especially those who are working in Middle East countries.
Many NRK organisations and groups are conducting election meetings and campaigns in those countries.
A Dubai-based NRK outfit is even getting ready to charter flights to Kerala to bring maximum NRK voters to the state and enhance the winning margin of their favourite candidates.
'Whatsapp', a cross-platform mobile messaging application, 'Skype' the free voice-over IP and instant messaging service, and 'Beyluxe messenger' are some of the most sought-after options used by Keralite candidates to ensure their 'virtual' presence in the NRK community.
Besides candidates, senior leaders of mainstream parties are also coming 'live' in chat rooms to interact with voters and campaign for their party candidates.
According to a latest government survey, there are 16,25,553 Non-Resident Keralites (NRKs).