Of all the new mantras that NaMo has been pushing hard, one of them is certainly to reach out to the public at large through a strong social media presence. He has whispered the same to his cabinet ministers, whose duty is to represent his style of governance and bureaucracy. The PM has instructed his ministers to make use of Twitter and Facebook and interact with masses. The avalanche of support that the BJP government received in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections could be attributed to their well-crafted online strategy to cash in on the vast disconnect between the people and their representatives.
It’s a veritable fact that BJP government is taking online space seriously. One can tell that by the latest makeover of the PMO’s website. It appears more interactive with prudent use of videos and pictures. In fact, the new Facebook page of PMO India has already received a million likes. Its Twitter profile also looks way more appealing than the former one.
Allow me to make some interesting observations on the social media activity of our present cabinet ministers:
Home Minister Rajnath Singh (@BJPRajnathSingh) is among the most regular users of social media. His 693 tweets have already fetched him over 356000 followers. Most of his posts are centered on his meetings with defense chiefs and headways he is making into present problems. He is clearly more expressive than his peers in the cabinet. If anyone comes closest to him, she has to be Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj). By the virtue of handling the important portfolio of an External Affairs Minister, she is putting her efforts to create a global connect with her 1.21 million followers. She has an impressive record of having posted close to 3,000 tweets ever since she joined Twitter on November 2010.
Despite being entrusted with a daunting task of handling three different portfolios (Finance, corporate affairs and defence), Arun Jaitley is still one of the most social media-savvy ministers in the cabinet. The relentless blogger that he is, Jaitley utilizes Twitter to link to his blog. Within six months of joining Twitter, he has garnered an impressive follower count of 334000. He seems to know the tricks of the trade as he cross-links his social media channels for maximum impact.
M Venkaiah Naidu (@MVENKAIAHNAIDU), the Urban Development minister has put up a decent effort to connect with the masses. He has been propagating how BJP has always supported formation of Telangana. Although Nitin Gadkari’s twitter profile (@nitin_gadkari) is comparatively a humble one with around 51,000 followers to his name, it is by no means an insignificant feat. Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad_bjp) deserves a special mention in the list of cabinet ministers who are proactively establishing communications with their online followers. The Law Minister had made his debut on Twitter in November 2013 and he has at least posted one tweet every day. His messages are mostly confined to the news pertaining to governance.
Smriti Irani (@smritiirani), the new HRD minister, is already a name to reckon with. She has managed to stay in the public imagination, thanks to 1.3 million likes on the Facebook page and 414000 followers on Twitter. From sharing pictures of her campaigns and links to TV interviews, she goes full throttle to leverage social media. Health and family welfare minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan (@drharshvardhan) has been on social media for over 5 years now and he prefers to play safe by posting generic tweets, with some of them brimming with optimism over new government.
Uma Bharati (@umasribharti), who is bestowed with the task of river development and Ganga rejuvenation, may not be one of the early adopters of social media, but she is fast catching up with the rest. Unlike many others, she blends emotion with her messages. Ask her followers, who are more than 28400 in number. Her twitter background reads,”Aao banaye ek samriddha bharat” (Come, let’s build a Prosperous India)
If the established norm of connecting with people online is aimed at achieving greater transparency and accepting the bouquets and brickbats, I earnestly welcome this initiative. May I say that it’s a strategic move to silence Modi’s detractors who accuse him of muzzling voices of dissent?