Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s personal Twitter handle, @narendramodi, tweeted 2,143 times between October 2018 and March 2019, averaging one tweet every two hours and mentioning the handle of his political party, @BJP4India, the most–31 times. According to the report published by IndiaSpend, Republic TV is the only news channel PM Modi retweeted which was nine times, during these six months. Of all his 35 retweets, seven mentioned his own Twitter handle. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as well as PM Modi, are active and extensive users of the social media, especially Twitter, and many of his tweets are further broadcast by India’s mainstream media. Reports have sprung up across the country about fake news which is politically charged ad malicious. Political parties themselves are suspected of spreading fake news.
With elections for India’s 17th Lok Sabha set to start this month, the last six months have been crucial for the ruling party’s campaign to get re-elected, which centres around PM Modi. In late 2018, the BJP witnessed reverses in three of five state assembly (legislature) elections in heartland states that it ruled, as well as the incumbent BJP government’s final though interim budget in February 2018.
Of the PM’s last six months’ tweets, two subjects attracted the maximum retweets from followers–those related to the armed forces after the terror attack on a Central Reserve Police Force convoy in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir that killed 40 personnel in February 2019; and his national campaign ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ in response to Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s jibe “Chowkidar chor hai [the watchman is a thief]”.
Other events that grabbed headlines and led to a flurry of political tweets included the formation of the opposition alliance, the Mahagathbandhan (the grand alliance); the unveiling of Sardar Vallabhai Patel’s statue in Gujarat, the tallest in the world; and the celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. PM Modi tweeted a total of 2,143 times in the span of 182 days to March 2019. This makes 12 tweets a day on an average. Month-wise, @narendramodi tweeted 16 times a day on an average in October 2018, which fell to 9 tweets in February 2019. In March 2019, just a month to the general elections, he tweeted an average of 11 times a day.