Since Narendra Modi came to power, he has been touted as one of the most modern and tech savvy leaders of our times. Spearheaded by Arvind Gupta, head of IT for the BJP, Narendra Modi’s social media campaign steered his way to the top during last year’s general elections. All the positive buzz, and government initiatives on social media were well-received.
Besides the government-driven initiatives, social media was abuzz all year, critically following PM Modi’s every move. There has been a lot of organic buzz that was created on social media during the past year.
Among politicians, Modi ranks second behind only Barack Obama in number of fans of his official Facebook page (Modi has 28,521,763 and counting). No other political leader is even close. His Twitter account and that of his office are among the fastest growing among politicians and elected officials worldwide. Among public figures who have some political sway, he trails only Obama, the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis in Twitter followers.
A new study reveals that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has successfully used social media to shape his public image as a tech savvy leader.
In a paper titled "Banalities Turned Viral: Narendra Modi and the Political Tweet," University of Michigan scholar Joyojeet Pal stated that Modi - whose social media following is next only to Barack Obama's (but a distant second) among world politicians - has used a pro-technological discourse to reframe his political image and overcome the fusty baggage of the Sangh Parivar.
“Modi has used social media successfully to shape his public image as a tech savvy leader, aligning himself with the aspirations of a younger generation in India,” said Pal’s paper.
“During his campaign, Modi’s account was more about his political vision. He mentioned national events and festivals and asked celebrities to support causes that appeared larger than his own,” the paper said.
Modi’s tweets in Chinese, Korean, Weibo account, or his selfies with international leaders have been trolling on social media, and have been critiqued by many. However, all said, the PM is accessible. There are many examples of the PM’s approachability through social media that have helped the less fortunate; the most popular one being a batch of nurses in Iraq tweeting on the PM's account, asking to be rescued. The PM, apparently, followed up.
“The young demographic of Twitter users in India are from a generation that has grown up with little memory with the riots of 2002. The enduring memory of Modi for them will be the political maverick who talks directly to the people, whether through Twitter or via his popular radio and YouTube missives called Mann Ki Baat. For a party long branded as appealing to constituents of traditional Hindutva values, the use of technology in the party's reimagination has been particularly salient,” Pal writes.