A cryptic and ambivalent Twitter post by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over 'quitting' social media has set tongues wagging. Modi is the second most followed politician in the world with a combined Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube following only behind former US President Barack Obama.
"This Sunday, thinking of giving up my social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & YouTube. Will keep you all posted," the prime minister tweeted. The tweet came at a time when India is grappling with the worst communal clashes it has witnessed in several decades. The country is also facing an economic slowdown and rising rates of unemployment.
Modi, the most active Indian politician on social media with millions of followers on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook, shocked the citizens after he tweeted about his plans to quit social media platforms. Collectively, Modi boasts of over 130 million followers on major social media platforms.
What did Narendra Modi say?
Soon after the post, twitter went abuzz with #NoSir and NoModiNoTwitter trending on the social media platform.
However, Modi did not disclose what led him to reconsider his presence on the various social platforms. A strong advocate of using decent language on social media and the need to prevent the spread of false information and rumors, Modi, during one of his rallies in 2018, had said that social media users have often gone against the rules of decent society.
Though Modi was supported by a lot of people over his various decisions, recently he drew flak for rising communal tensions and his late response to the emerging communal violence in Delhi.
Is it a publicity stunt for something big to come ?
Hours after the tweet went viral, there were widespread speculations that the announcement was probably done in anticipation of something major planned by the Indian Prime Minister. Stating a source LiveMint reported: 'Modi's decision to give up social media accounts on Sunday is timed with the International Women's Day and will probably see women post on behalf of the leader.'
In a tweet, Sheela Bhatt of NewsX tweeted: "One of my friends who is senior staffer of one of the SM @narendramodi wants to leave told me : it's possibly a teaser. It could be women's day gimmick. For a day his accounts on different platforms could be 'taken over' by selected women. Btw, he was bit nervous."
Soon others too came up with the same theory by decoding the tweet of the Indian Prime Minister. "@narendramodi ji is planning to "give up" social media on "This Sunday" (only). This Sunday, 8 March is International Women's Day and the plan is to let a few prominent women run his social media accounts similar to how teachers let students take classes on Teacher's Day," pointed out one user.
How strong is Modi's social presence?
The Indian prime minister is one of the most followed world leaders in the world. A voracious social media user, Modi often uses various platforms to promote the schemes launched by the government besides sharing his personal anecdotes and connecting with people all over the world.
On Instagram, Modi is the most followed world leader surpassing US President Donald Trump (14.9 million) and former US President Barack Obama (24.8 million), with over 30 million followers.
On Twitter too, Modi boasts of 53.3 million followers. He is the third world leader with so many followers, after former US President Barack Obama (113.3 million) and US President Donald Trump (73.3 million). He has 44 million followers on Facebook.
Reactions to Modi's tweet
Since the tweet went up Monday night, it has been retweeted 460,000 times and received close to a million comments. Soon twitter was trending with people urging Modi, the pioneer of digital revolution in India, to not quit social media platforms.
Even other politicians joined the bandwagon. Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who has blamed Modi's party for the communal disharmony in the country, tweeted: "Give up hatred, not social media accounts."
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav tweeted: "Thinking of closing the path of social dialogue is not a good thing. There are other more meaningful things to leave."
"People Around The World Love You So Much Modi Ji. You May Take A Short Break From Social Media If You Want But, #NoSir We Requesting You Musn't Leave Social Media," a user tweeted. "Am Narendra Modi fan. If Modi ji quits - I am off as well," said another user on Twitter.