Twitter is riding high on the election hysteria to expand its network in India with politicians and their followers taking to the microblogging site to engage in all-out verbal spar. Though the national elections aren’t even hallway through, election-related tweets have crossed 20 million, according to top Twitter officials. Politics-related tweets in India was about 20 million in 2013.
By comparison, there were only 1.73 million tweets on cricket during the recent T20 World Cup."We have been growing and our investment in growth is working. We have taken a very conscious decision to focus on cricket and politics to grow in India," said Rishi Jaitly, head, Twitter India.
"We have seen 600% rise in the volume of political tweets in last three months," said Raheel Khursheed, head, politics and government, Twitter India.
"In 2014 most politicians are using Twitter to reach out to their constituencies," said Khursheed. "This election is the biggest opportunity for us to expand our user base."
Twitter officials, however, have not shared the exact user base, citing company policy. According to the Internet and Mobile Association of India as of March 2013, the site had 33 million users in India.
"In mid-2009, the most prominent politician on Twitter was Shashi Tharoor with 6,000 followers. While his base has swelled to 2.14 million, he has been overtaken by Narendra Modi with 3.7 million followers.
This, in a way, reflects the rise in the number of Twitter users too," said Khursheed.
AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and BJP’s leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj are other politicians with over one million Twitter followers.