Sorry BJP, but for Modi to follow abusive trolls on Twitter says more about him than them
BJP's defence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi following trolls on Twitter shows exactly what is wrong with what has been pointed out so far. “PM following someone is not a character certificate of a person” is the statement that has been issues by Amit Malviya, the head of the party's IT cell.
Twitter user Nikhil Dadhich's “character certificate” lies in his tweets, not in the fact that Modi follows him. It is already a huge problem that there is no control on people like Dadhich spreading filth on such a volatile public platform that social media is.
The fact that accounts like his are followed by accounts of stature, such as that of the prime minister, compounds the problem. It gives legitimacy to the bile poured out by trolls like Dadhich on social media. This mean that it not just about the PM following someone not being a “guarantee of how a person would conduct himself”, as articulated by Malviya.
Dadhich is responsible for his own conduct, but Modi following him says more about Modi than him. Those conversant with Twitter will know that one follows only three kinds of people on twitter -
1. Friends and acquaintances
2. People whose views you agree with and would like to spread
3. People whose views you disagree with and would merely like to stay informed about
Dadhich and Modi are on the same end of the ideological spectrum, so reason number three is certainly not why the duo follow each other.
That leaves us with the other two reasons and they clearly indicate a synergy of thought between both accounts. Dadhich's exultation about Modi following him, which was clearly visible earlier in his now-altered bio, goes on to show that it is a source of encouragement for him.
Modi, on his part, follows a mere 1,779 accounts as compared to his following of 33.8 million. These less than 1,800 accounts include, as informed by Malviya, Modi's rivals like Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal.
However, they also include trolls like Dadhich and many others. For them, it is indeed a rare honour to be followed by Modi, given the limited number and the status of the people he follows. So there is former US President Barak Obama on one hand and Nikhil Dadhich on the other. It will be interesting to hear from the PM what made him follow accounts like these.
It is interesting to note that Modi is yet to speak on the tragedy - Gauri Lankesh's murder - that sparked this controversy in the first place. Congress has called his silence “conspiratorial”, but this is not the first time the PM has refused to comment early on a raging controversy surrounding him or his party or his party's ideological fountainhead. He speaks at a time of his choosing.
Let us take it for granted that when Modi decided to follow Dadhich, he didn't know how the latter will behave. However, now that he has seen Dadhich's tweets, like everyone else, can't he now unfollow the troll? That, actually, is Modi's statement on the issue.