Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has unfollowed over 50 people on Twitter, including a few of his aides, journalists and some seen as critical of him. This is in contrast to the social media policy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who continues to follow many opposition leaders, including those who are critical of him and his government.
Government sources cited the examples of opposition leaders such as Navjot Singh Sidhu and Kirti Azad, who the PM follows from his personal handle on Twitter, even though their tweets are often critical of him. The PM has continued to follow them after they left the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a few years ago and crossed over to the Opposition camp. Another such example is of Pradyot Bora, who quit the BJP in 2015 and founded the Liberal Democratic Party — but the PM continues to follow him on Twitter. Udit Raj, another BJP leader who left the party to join the Congress and is extremely critical of the Modi government, is followed by the PM. Modi also follows on Twitter Delhi Chief Minister (CM) Arvind Kejriwal, who in the past had termed him a “liar and a psychopath” in a post, the sources pointed out. The PM, in fact, also follows Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who is his biggest critic.
“When Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014, we found that the old Prime Minister’s Office Twitter account had blocked hundreds of individuals. All of them were unblocked under the new regime in an elaborate exercise,” a senior government official told News18.
The PM also follows many Opposition leaders who criticise him and the central government consistently, but were earlier part of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Examples include former Jammu and Kashmir CM and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who resigned as a Minister in the Union Cabinet last year with her party quitting the NDA. Ex-Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav, Haryana Congress MP Deepender Singh Hooda and Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh are also followed by Modi, along with many Congress leaders such as Shashi Tharoor, Randeep Surjewala, Digvijaya Singh, Ajay Maken, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Prithivraj Chavan, Milind Deora, RPN Singh and the late Ahmed Patel.
Modi also follows on Twitter former Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy, former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav, former Bihar CM Lalu Prasad Yadav and former Bihar Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav, who pull back no punches when it comes to taking on the PM. Modi’s personal handle also follows all CMs and Deputy CMs, including West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Delhi’s Deputy CM, Manish Sisodia. The PM also makes it a point to follow young opposition leaders such as the Trinamool Congress’s Abhishek Banerjee and the Shiv Sena’s Aditya Thackeray.