“Teen saal, bemisaal,” an intelligently crafted headline in The Economic Times said recently. I think it has indeed been an amazing run for the country since this government took over the reigns in Delhi this time in 2014.
Even the worst critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rule would accept his stellar performance in the arena of political communication. His deft use of social media has no parallels among all his peers in global politics. Donald Trump could have been a challenger for the great job he did leveraging Twitter vis-a-vis Hillary Clinton. But after his accession to the office of President, Trump has posted thoughtless tweets that are turning into political liability.
No such thing with Modi. Each day, his ability to navigate the discourse increases by leaps and bounds. The number of followers of his personal Twitter account stands at 30 million.
Another verified account @narendramodi_in adds another 1.1 million to his echo chamber. Plus @pmoindia account has 18 million. That’s an unmatched 49.1 million by way of verified accounts only.
Add fan handles and central ministers, party officials and government accounts to this and we are talking of over 75 million follows on Twitter alone.
A friend of mine, who was honoured to be published on the PM’s app, called it “the most valuable piece of media acreage in the world.”
The app is a tool that Modi employs to live stream his meetings, replug positive stories in the mainstream media. Here, his Mann ki Baat is snarly embedded. There is a buzzing social media corner for citizens (called Bhaktas by jealous critics!), and followers get a signed digital greeting on their birthdays – many take screenshots and flaunt them on their Facebook!
In comparison, Trump’s personal handle and the White House add up to a total of 45 million followers. No mean achievement, but no patch on consummate usage by Modi and the official Indian contingent. This for a country where the Intelligence Bureau had a firm directive that no public official will be on social platforms. If my memory serves me right, the then foreign secretary, Nirupama Rao, had to defy the IB ban only to tweet and help Indians stranded in various situations across the world. Today, this technique is SOP. External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj regularly issues orders to assist NRIs in distress.
The same goes for Facebook. Modi has aligned his political communication of Twitter and the NaMo app with a thoughtful page aimed at the 1.9 billion folks on FB. Smart content on the Narendra Modi Facebook page has an unassailable following of 41 million. The official PMO Facebook has another 13.4 million. This power has an exponential multiplier when the political message passes through Modi’s Twitter and the NaMo app.
A recent Forbes piece puts Modi and other Indian leaders as the most effective users of social media on the planet I agree. They, ably led by Modi’s stirring example, tweet with a purpose. And they say it better than many others at the top of the game.