Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav is getting Twitter savvy ahead of the 2017 assembly elections, leaving no stone unturned in connecting with people through social media.
The 42-year-old leader is increasingly using his personal handle @yadavakhilesh – with 837,000 followers – and official account @CMOfficeUP to announce compensation cheques or gifts to victims.
When Snapdeal employee Dipti Sarna was abducted last week, generating massive media buzz, Akhilesh quickly sprung into action.
He responded to Snapdeal CEO Kunal Bahl and the viral hashtag #HelpFindDipti to find the Ghaziabad resident.
“UPCM @yadavakhilesh has instructed SSP GZB to personally head the search operation of #HelpFindDipti. Several teams formed,” read a tweet from @CMofficeUP.
The CM tweeted instructions to state police headquarters and top officials to monitor the search operation’s progress.
Akhilesh even sent instructions to the Ghaziabad administration through Twitter, “#UPCM @yadavakhilesh also instructs local Admn to ensure lighting in crowded places with immediate effect. #HelpFindDipti”
The CM office used a tweet to announce that Sarna had been found unharmed.
Akhilesh wasn’t this active on Twitter even last year but now is aggressively ramping up his social media footprint, possibly realising its power in propelling politicians such as Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal to election victories.
On Thursday, he celebrated 100,000 followers on @CMOfficeUP by tweeting “One lakh followers & counting! #Thankyou for being a part of our journey to become a #digitally active #government.”
On February 13, Akhilesh posted a picture of Ghaziabad’s only female autorickshaw driver Ruby Singhal and her children on his Twitter account.
Seeing Ghaziabad residents’ initiative of collecting money to help Singhal buy an auto, Akhilesh chipped in to help Singhal, followed by a tweet from his own handle @yadavakhilesh, “We gave an autorickshaw to Ruby Singhal, the lady auto driver who was refused insurance money for her damaged auto”.
We gave an auto rickshaw to Ruby Singhal, the lady auto driver who was refused insurance money for her damaged auto. pic.twitter.com/LGE8znWgjd— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) February 13, 2016
Ruby Singhal had lost her two autos due to a freak fire incident on the night of January 6.
In quick succession on February 18, @UPCMOffice tweeted early morning, “#UPCM announces for medical expenses incurred during the treatment of Commander Rajesh Singh to be borne by @UPGovt.” It was a pinned post on its twitter feed throughout the day.
The injured National Security Guard commando is from Ghaziabad and the CM’s tweet also announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh.
Social media has changed the equations of political patronage in the state. A decade ago, a resident of Noida, Ghaziabad or other western UP towns found it difficult to get heard in Lucknow due to geographical distance. Twitter and Facebook has bridged that gap.
Last year, the CM’s wife, Dimple Yadav, saw a social media post about a boy studying under streetlights outside a Noida Metro station. He kept a weighing machine next to him for funding his education.
Moved by the post, Dimple requested the CM to help him. Akhilesh announced financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh to 13-year-old Harendra Singh Chauhan and even met the teen , gifting him a bicycle so that the boy could go to school.
On August 28 last year, Akhilesh read about a UP postmaster who was building a ‘Taj Mahal’ for his late wife and was unable to complete it due to lack of funds. Akhilesh met the 80-year-old retired postmaster Faizul Hasan Qadri and expressed his desire to help him financially.
Qadri turned down the offer and requested the CM to build a girls college in his village and repair a road instead.
The CM immediately ordered officials to allocate Rs 40 lakh for the road and other development projects in the village.