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#MainBhiChowkidar backfires after an automated tag

On Twitter, faithfuls and loyals were surprised to see the prime minister’s personal Twitter account not only tag known critics of the NDA-2 government and parody accounts such as @AmbaniKaChela @NehruKiGaltiHai and @niiravmodi, but also thank them for joining the “Main bhi chowkidar” campaign.

To return Rahul Gandhi’s verbal volley “chowkidar chor hai”—the prime minister has often called himself a “chowkidar at the service of India”—the BJP launched the “Main bhi Chowkidar” online campaign.
To return Rahul Gandhi’s verbal volley “chowkidar chor hai”—the prime minister has often called himself a “chowkidar at the service of India”—the BJP launched the “Main bhi Chowkidar” online campaign.
To return Rahul Gandhi’s verbal volley “chowkidar chor hai”—the prime minister has often called himself a “chowkidar at the service of India”—the BJP launched the “Main bhi Chowkidar” online campaign.
To return Rahul Gandhi’s verbal volley “chowkidar chor hai”—the prime minister has often called himself a “chowkidar at the service of India”—the BJP launched the “Main bhi Chowkidar” online campaign.

It is good to be tech-forward. But, it is even better to avoid embarrassment. Prime minister Narendra Modi’s social media team and the BJP’s IT cell would have learnt this the hard way these past few days. To return Rahul Gandhi’s verbal volley “chowkidar chor hai”—the prime minister has often called himself a “chowkidar at the service of India”—the BJP launched the “Main bhi Chowkidar” online campaign. Only, it backfired. On Twitter, faithfuls and loyals were surprised to see the prime minister’s personal Twitter account not only tag known critics of the NDA-2 government and parody accounts such as @AmbaniKaChela @NehruKiGaltiHai and @niiravmodi, but also thank them for joining the “Main bhi chowkidar” campaign. Given the opposition has been routinely accusing the government of crony capitalism and aiding “loot and scoot”, this played right into the hands of the critics. So, why would the prime minister sabotage his own campaign? The truth is the prime minister did not. But, tellingly, the social media team running the campaign failed to anticipate the dangers of running the campaign on an auto-responder mode.

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Thanks to the absence of human vetting, what could have been a successful social media campaign has become the butt of Twitter jeers. And, given how social media amplifies both glory and gaffes, this isn’t going to die down in a hurry. The soft underbelly of an unqualified reliance on technology has been exposed before—when AltNews’s Pratik Sinha exposed how easy it was to manipulate the mass-tweeting the BJP’s IT cell organises on a daily basis. For better or worse, the BJP and the NDA-2 government have positioned themselves as tech-forward. A Nirav Modi, even if a parody, tweeting #MainBhiChowkidar may not take that sheen off, but the party comes off looking quite silly.

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