Ahmedabad: For many email inboxes, the New Year began with a mail from Twitter that read- 'Narendra Modi is now following you on Twitter". Notifications of such kind with different names may be a routine thing for those active on social media but, this indeed was a rare one! After all it was Narendra Modi, widely dubbed as the 'King of Social Media" who found their Twitter pages interesting enough for him to 'follow"!
On Sunday, Jan 1, 439,988 followers enlisted their names in the Twitter account of the Gujarat Chief Minister, while he himself is following 174 people in Twitter. Modi has so far tweeted 724 tweets.
Modi"s recent 'following" spree indicates that he is as much a top public figure as he is a people"s person! Apart from following his colleagues in the BJP, international leaders, eminent celebrities, Modi is also following (you heard right) his fans and well-wishers and here lies the crux of Modi"s following exercise.
The BJP leaders Modi now 'follows" include Sushma Swaraj, Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh and Rajya Sabha MP Smriti Irani. Modi"s following list goes international with him 'following" the Twitter accounts of President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron.
The 2 organizations that make it to his list are the United Nations and the Gates Foundation. Modi may be courting China for investments in Gujarat but the Dalai Lama too figures in the following list. Surprisingly, only 3 journalists Prabhu Chawala, Tavleen Singh and Sucheta Dalal make it to the list of people Modi wants to 'follow". The celebrities whose updates will be viewed by Modi include Amitabh Bachchan (who is a brand ambassador for Gujarat tourism) and Akshay Kumar from the film fraternity and Sachin and Sehwag from the cricketing world. Not surprisingly, Gujarat finds immense importance in this list as half a dozen Twitter handles Modi now follows are connected to the Gujarat government or news sites relating to Gujarat.
Unlike the celebrities who only follow other celebrities, Modi has started a precedent of following ordinary fans and activists who are associated with him. These include popular Twitter pages among the Indian Right such as 'Offstumped" and 'Centerofright". Is it not empowering in itself that the well-wishers who followed Modi since long and now having the honour of a 'follow back" from him, have the option of writing to him directly through Direct Messages? What can be more honouring than having the opportunity to write to a CM, an internationally reputed public figure like Narendra Modi?
Narendra Modi truly enjoys a great relationship with Twitter. In the summer of 2009, Modi took to tweeting as a means to reach out to his well wishers spread across the length and breadth of the world.
Today Narendra Modi is a hit on Twitter both in terms of followers and influence. His list of followers is more than impressive when compared to fellow politicians in India. But more importantly it is his Twitter influence that stands out. His total tweets stand at a miniscule 725 but he has constantly stood as the 'most influential person on Twitter" surpassing politicians, film actors, businessmen or sportsmen.
Infact, this large fan base and influence is linked to the persona of Modi himself! Like in real life, Modi seems to have in plenty the ability to gauge the pulse of the people on the internet. He tweets less but when he does, the country stands up and listens. Not surprisingly he is constantly aware of what his followers want from him. In the wake of the 12th September 2011 judgment of the
Supreme Court he famously reacted by simply tweeting, 'God is Great". He very smartly linked Ambedkar"s emphasis on free speech with Sibal snatching it away ironically on his death anniversary. More recently, when a Russian court rejected the plea to ban Bhagavad Gita, Modi galvanized twitteratti with his tweet 'Russian court dismisses plea to ban Bhagavad Gita. Satyameva Jayate! Jai Shree Krishna!" It is this mastery of thoughts and words that Modi is the unanimous King of Social Media!
Of course this exercise will bring with it the old questions- why has Modi not followed any opposition leader? Or why did he follow the people he decided to follow? Many will also wonder what was the need to begin the mass following all of a sudden. Does it indicate a desire to swim into new waters? These are questions Modi can answer best but once again, he has showed how he is miles ahead of his contemporaries both in social media and how to adapt to it! Don"t be surprised if a galaxy of other leaders too presses the 'follow" button. It was once said, “I must follow them for I am their leader." Once again Modi shows he is a leader, even if it is in 'following" people.