What is the difference between Twitter and the Lok Sabha? Twitter allows 140 characters, while the Lok Sabha has 552. And so the jokes continue.
Shashi Tharoor, on Twitter, has nine friends but 174,490 followers. He’s beaten our Bollywood celebrities in the number game. And with increasing following, he is the undoubted top dog on Twitter.
In contrast, our filmy starlets have a comparatively meagre following — Gul Panag, 18,701 followers, Mallika Sherawat, 17,289 followers.
Since Tharoor’s infamous remark about the holy cows (or ‘cattlegate,’ as they’re calling it) broke, people clued into his tweets have exceeded rational expectations. A few weeks ago, he had less than 40,000 followers — 38,907 on August 28, 2009.
Cut to the present. The Minister of State for External Affairs has apologised: “I’m told it sounds worse in Malayalam, esp out of context. To those hurt by the belief that my repeating the phrase showed contempt: sorry (sic).”
There have been shows on television. Guest speakers have asked, what is the big deal, but the fire refuses to die out.
Tweets Tharoor: “It’s a silly expression but means no disrespect to economy travellers, only to airlines for herding us in like cattle. Many have misunderstd (sic).”
The graph showing Tharoor’s following shows a massive jump. This is unlike the more gradual increase in huge number of followers in the case of, say, US President Barack Obama, who has consistently had followers in seven digits: From 13,10,973 in June 6, 2009 to 2,184,355 on September 18.
Hollywood actor and Demi Moore’s husband Ashton Kutcher has 36,08,149 followers.
Closer home, other tweet-savvy politico K Sudhakaran — ex-Kerala minister, now a Congress MP from Kannur and in his own words, “best known for pulverising the marxists in Kerala” — with 2,264 “peeps” (people) is still not a patch on Tharoor.