Twitter wars: Rahul Gandhi beats PM Modi at his own game

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New Delhi | Updated: December 19, 2018 12:59:03 PM

Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi has outwitted tech-savvy Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter, confirming with the Congress president’s newfound enthusiasm leading up to significant electoral gains in the last few months. While PM Modi continues to be one of the most followed celebrities on Twitter not just in India but globally, Rahul has started slogging harder to give him a tough fight. Since assuming charge at the helm of Congress, Rahul’s activities on Twitter have soared exponentially. The efforts have already started paying dividends as the Congress president’s tweets are garnering a lot more engagement than those of PM Modi.

While the gap between the followers of PM Modi and Rahul is still very high with the Prime Minister commanding a strong following of 44.7 million, Rahul is slowly climbing up the ladder with the current 8.09 million. However, on certain parameters on Twitter, Rahul Gandhi has left PM Modi behind.

Criteria like ‘retweets per tweet’, ‘replies per tweet’ and ‘likes per tweet’ are very crucial in assessing someone’s influence on Twitter and Rahul has outsmarted the PM since January 2017. In terms of the number of tweets, PM Modi and Rahul are at par. PM Modi generally tweets about issues like new decisions, diplomacy and others. On the other hand, Rahul posts about issues which are popular among the electorate like jobs, infrastructure, farmers. However, Rahul often engages in personal attacks which PM Modi tends to avoid on Twitter, according to analysis carried out by Times of India.

On Twitter, Rahul enjoys over 8,000 retweets per tweet in comparison to less than 4,000 for PM Modi. Rahul Gandhi also boasts of 30,000 Likes per tweet, while PM Modi has over 15,000 likes per tweet.

In terms of replies per tweet, Rahul Gandhi has over 3,500 whereas Modi has around 1,000.

An analysis of the tweets posted by Rahul Gandhi and PM Modi shows that Rahul talks about jobs in one tweet out 46 tweets, infrastructure in one out of 106, farmers in one out of 17.

In case of PM Modi, the number on the same issues stand at 1 in 462, 1 in 64, and 1 in 33 for jobs, infrastructure and farmers, respectively.

Following the crushing defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and a string of losses in states after that, Rahul Gandhi has reivented himself as a leader and is leading the charge against the Modi government. Besides social media, The Congress president is also seen participating more actively in issues that matter politically. This transformation of sorts has translated into significant electoral gains for the Congress and the recent wins in Hindi heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajsthan are testimony to it.

The poll outcomes in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh show that the BJP will face a tough contest in the form of Congress in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook will likely to play pivotal roles in the manifestation of parties’ and individuals’ ideas and gauging the pulse of the people who use the aforementioned networking sites.

While recent victories in three Hindi heartland states will surely provide a boost to Rahul and his engagements on Twitter, PM Modi and his team will look to counter this ahead of elections. According to reports, social media was instrumental in pushing BJP to power in 2014. However, with Rahul becoming more and more Twitter savvy, a different dimension is set to take place in 2019 as Congress is also gearing up to combat the BJP’s formidable cyber army.

Talking to PTI, Congress’ social media department head Divya Spandana asserted that the process to widen the Congress’ digital presence started a long time ago and digital war rooms have already been set up in every state. “We have a (social media) unit in every state and now we are going down to districts. Since it’s digital, everybody is already connected. Everybody has data on their phone and everything is managed through the state teams,” Spandana said.

BJP’s national information and technology in-charge Amit Malviya said the party’s social media strategy relies on its well-trained cadre, who are adept at using the medium for political communication, and committed volunteer network.

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