On the 17th of September 2017, people on Twitter logged in to see a thrilling 'birthday surprise' awaiting them. It was not their birthday, but that of the Prime Minister of India.
One of the most followed personalities on Twitter, Narendra Modi, had overwhelmed Twitter by following many twitter users or replying to their tweets wishing him. This sent Twitter timelines into a celebratory mood.
Prime Minister Modi has never celebrated his birthday in the conventional way. It was always business as usual.
On his birthday this time, he dedicated the Sardar Sarovar Dam to the nation. After attending events in Gujarat, the Prime Minister visited the residence of Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh to pay his tributes to him and be with his family in their hour of grief.
Despite a long day, late at night, the Prime Minister started sending out replies to the birthday wishes, he received throughout the day from various people. He engaged with a wide spectrum of people, ranging from foreign dignitaries to national leaders. With the same elan and warmth, he replied to common people on twitter too.
To a Twitter user Anit's wish - "We've A People's PM Who Serve Himself For Indians & His Hard Work & Dedication For India Always Inspired Me. ????#HappyBirthdayPM#SewaDiwas" - Prime Minister Modi replied, "Thank you for your wishes Anit."
Thank you for your wishes Anit.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 18, 2017
The prime minister thanked his Twitter Army - "Pradhan Sevak @narendramodi ji, best wishes to you on ur birthday :) Proud to be an Indian.. Proud to hv u as our PM.."
Pradhan Sevak @narendramodi ji, best wishes to you on ur birthday :)— Narendra Modi Army (@TigerNaMo) September 17, 2017
Proud to be an Indian.. Proud to hv u as our PM..
@NarendraModi has brought the thinking of "grand scales" to Indian Mind. He's breaking an important barrier. Happy Birthday, sir.— Piyush Kulshreshtha (@ThinkersPad) September 17, 2017
In the midst of this twitter activity, Suresh, a user who tweets with the handle @surnell expressed disappointment on his greetings not getting acknowledged.
To his surprise, Prime Minister responded to his tweet, that too within just 6 minutes of his disappointed tweet, leaving him and the twitter community pleasantly surprised.
Thanks for your wishes.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 17, 2017
Then came the 'follow backs' from the Prime Minister's personal twitter handle that gave a lot of joy to the 'Twitterati'. They were pleasantly surprised that it was actually the PM's birthday but the gifts were raining on them.
The Frustrated Indian tweeted, "Only PM @narendramodi can gift people on his Birthday :) Thank you for following us Dear Prime Minister. We will never let you down :)"
This turned out to be a return gift Saurabh Singh would remember for a long time.
He tweeted, "Honoured feeling when you are followed by the most respected PM ever @NarendraModi ji (On his birthday). Truly the best ever return gift."
Professor Makarand Paranjape, known for his scholarly writings and another author known for his well-written books, Vamsee Juluri, were both pleasantly surprised by this phenomenon of return gifts on PM's birthday.
He tweeted, "@ShefVaidya Me too? 'Narendra ModiVerified account Followers 34.3M @narendramodi Follows you' Sir, thanks 4 birthday return-gift bonanza!??"
Those who received the return-gift of a lifetime were left overwhelmed at the gesture.
Vishakha's reaction here is a special case. Let us take a look at how this moment happened. In multiple discussions, she was ruing the fact that PM Modi did not yet respond to her birthday wish or follow her.
She said she wanted a reply or a 'follow back'. And PM surprised her with a 'follow back', the better among the two options.
"Overwhelmed" seemed to be among the more often used words late on the night of September 17th night and the next morning.
Shefali Vaidya tweeted, "My heart skipped a beat when I saw this! Kal birthday @narendramodi ji ka tha, but I got an invaluable gift! Thank you Sir, am overwhelmed!!"
Recently, a controversy was raked up regarding the people Prime Minister Narendra Modi follows on twitter. However, oblivious to such controversies, PM Modi followed more people on his birthday and made their day. Nupur, an active tweeter, saw the move as indicative of the Prime Minister's unhindered and free spirit, attuned to unfettered interaction with common people without letting anything else get in the way.
Nupur, who goes by the handle @UnSubtleDesi, tweeted, "Lol. They made a national issue out of the people PM follows. Demanded that he unfollows tweeps. He responded by following more ppl! Swag ??"
Lol. They made a national issue out of the people PM follows. Demanded that he unfollows tweeps. He responded by following more ppl! Swag 😂— Nupur (@UnSubtleDesi) September 17, 2017
Finally, a delightful tweet interaction succinctly captured the mood of the day. While the Prime Minister kept giving return gifts to netizens, the day was made even more special for not only the PM who was celebrating his birthday and for the twitterati, but also for the whole nation.
Ace badminton player P.V. Sindhu gifted something very precious to the PM who was in a gifting mood himself. She dedicated her gold medal victory in the Korea Open to PM Modi. And as expected, the PM too sent out a reply to her.
Prime Minister Modi tweeted, "This is a very special birthday gift! Thank you very much," in reply to Sindhu's tweet, "I dedicate this Victory for our beloved Prime Minister Shri Modiji on his Birthday for his untiring and self less services to our Country."
This is a very special birthday gift! Thank you very much. https://t.co/IQXCf4nP6J— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 17, 2017