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Is Time Ripe for a Social Media Rulebook for Politicians?

Pankaj Sharma @journopankaj

Updated: September 9, 2017, 8:15 PM IST
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Is Time Ripe for a Social Media Rulebook for Politicians?
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The debate during the week on the Prime Minister following some people on Twitter who used abusive language after journalist Gauri Lankesh’s death has thrown focus on who our political leaders follow on social media.

This also points to the need by political parties to perhaps issue a whip, or maybe a rulebook, on who their leaders should follow online.

Let’s take a quick look at who our leaders are following on social media. The BJP’s official Twitter account follows only two people — Prime Minister Narendtra Modi and party chief Amit Shah. The Congress, on the other hand, follows over two thousand people on Twitter, largely party leaders and few journalists.

Different leaders approach different policies. The PM follows over a thousand people and includes people from different walks of life. Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi adopts a different strategy. He follows 79 people and all of them belong to his party.

There are some leaders who do not follow anyone despite being very popular on social media. Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has 9.38 million followers on Twitter, but she doesn’t follow anyone. Former President Pranab Mukherjee has 39,000 followers but he also doesn’t follow anyone.

Nitin Gadkari, follows just two accounts – the PM and the BJP. But his cabinet colleague Prakash Javadekar follows 173 people, including Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh.

The Chief Ministers also adopt a different approach. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee follows 29 people, including some Union ministers and the Prime Minister’s Office. While Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath follows 39 people, all of them are part of the BJP.

So, it is clear that there is no similarity on who politicians follow on social media. The time is ripe for them to adopt a stand, as far as the online sphere is concerned.
First Published: September 9, 2017, 6:07 PM IST

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