Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to declare Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes as illegal tender, seems to have backfired. Besides anger on the streets, confusion in markets and banks, Modi also appears to be facing a backlash on Twitter - a medium where he has ruled the roost for long.
Modi's Twitter following fell by over 3 lakh on 9 November, a day after he made the announcement on national television.
According to data available through the analytical service Twitter Counter, Modi lost 3.13 lakh Twitter followers on Wednesday 9 November.
According to Trackalytics, another website which monitors social media analytics, Modi's Twitter following fell by 3.18 lakh in one day.
With 23.8 million followers, Modi is the most followed Indian on Twitter, a little ahead of actor Amitabh Bachchan, who has 23.3 million followers. This dip is abnormal as Modi's following has been constantly increasing.
In November itself, Modi's followers on Twitter have increased by around 25,000 every day. On 8 November, the day of the announcement, the increase was even higher - close to 50,000. But Modi's announcement on the evening of 8 November that the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes will now be illegal tender, seems to have turned the tide.
Take a look at the following graph which shows a constant increase since September, with this sudden dip on 9 November.
Normally, the only time such sudden fall in followers takes place is when Twitter removes fake Twitter handles. But that should have led to a decrease in the number of followers for other political leaders as well. That hasn't been the case. For instance, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's followers and those of Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi have increased in the past couple of days.
If the dip in followers is indeed linked to the new demonetisation policy, it is a worrying sign for the BJP.
It would be safe to assume that the backlash to the policy outside the virtual world would be much greater.
A Twitter spokesperson responded to Catch's story and said that the reduction of followers was due to spam accounts being deleted. The spokesperson, however, did not wish to be named.
He/she did not explain why there has been no reduction in the followers of Arvind Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi in the corresponding period as they too could have been affected by the deletion of spam accounts.
Twittter also did not respond when Catch asked why such a reduction in the number of Modi's followers didn't take place at all in the past two months and that it suddenly happened immediately after the demonetisation announcement.
With inputs from Amit Kumar Bajpai and Sahil Bhalla