Utpal Borpujari

June 4, 2009

Twitter connects new-age Indian politicos

By Utpal Borpujari

New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi’s has been hacked and consequently no longer exists, but Shashi Tharoor’s is going great guns, with 4,581 followers till date.

We are talking about politicians using Twitter, a Gen X social networking platform that is meant only to give very brief and latest updates about oneself, using the Internet and mobile phones.

Suddenly, personal websites, Facebook, Orkut – all seem to be passe.

Now, it’s all about Twitter, where all updates basically answer one question – “What are you doing?” – is the keyword for quite a few Indian politicians, with the tool coming in handy to keep Net-savvy supporters informed about their latest activity.

So, if you have Tharoor, responding apparently to comments in media that he spoke with a “Manhattan” accent while taking oath as a Union minister, that his is actually a “Stephanian” English – a reference to his alma mater St Stephens College, in Delhi, you also have BJP’s young MP Varun Gandhi wondering whether he had said something “that hurting”.

Congress’ Rahul Gandhi had started updating his status on Twitter quite frequently, but has fallen silent after his page was hacked. But Tharoor is going great guns.

In one of his updates, he tells one respondent that his accent “isn’t remotely American”, while in another he underscores that all through he has been an international civil servant and the only time he had represented India at the United Nations was when he ran for the Secretary-General’s post.

But most of his updates concern the change in his daily routine, after getting elected and becoming a minister.

So, his updates can read either like “still one more dinner to go, with a section of the diplomatic corps at the splendidly renovated Hyderabad House. A real showcase bldg”, or like “Also (as Tvm MP): Good and constructive mtg with Law Minister on Kerala High Court, visits from expat Keralites, reception by Delhi Mal Assn”.

Varun Gandhi, who has 20 followers on Twitter, has not updated his status since April three, when in a clear reference to the furore his alleged comments against Muslims in an election meeting in Pilibhit, he had asked, “Did I really say something that hurting?”.

Another BJP leader who is more active on Twitter is Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. With 871 people following his updates, he is quite regular in the task.

For example, on Wednesday, his two messages read, “America’s renowned Duke University eager to have collaboration with Gujarat for higher studies” and “The director of the Indian Region Mr. Robert F Markley and his team of Indian Operations expressed his eagerness”.

Earlier, he has said on Twitter that his government was ready to help students studying in Australia. While his unsaid reference is clearly towards the racial attacks, he left it unsaid how he plans to help them.

But quite a few politicians seem to have joined Twitter and then forgot about it. Among them are Sachin Pilot, Omar Abdullah, Milind Deora and  Jyotiraditya Scindia, all of whom joined the “India voting” twitter on February one, but followed up with no activity.

Well, they are in august company – US President Barack Obama is also on Twitter with 30,056 followers, but without a single update on his status.

(Published in Deccan Herald, www.deccanherald.com, www.deccanheraldepaper.com, 04-06-2009)



1 Comment »

  1. Varun Gandhi does not have any twitter account. Clearly there is someone misusing his identity. Any comments attributed to him on Twitter are false.

    Comment by Anjali — June 6, 2009 @ 2:06 am | Reply

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