The politics of Twitter: Why did Rahul Gandhi stop following his aides?
Former Congress president and Wayanad member of Parliament Rahul Gandhi unfollowed all his core team members on Twitter on Tuesday, in what appears to be a signal to the broader party, and also the latest episode in a long-running young-vs-old feud.
Hindustan Times has learnt that this action was in response to certain party members complaining that Gandhi was following people selectively, and not all party leaders.
The persons that Gandhi with 18.8 million followers unfollowed on Tuesday, include his key aides KB Byju, Nikhil and Nivedith Alva, Kaushal Vidyarthee and Alankar Sawai. While Gandhi followed 281 persons till Tuesday, by the end of the day the number was reduced to 228. On Wednesday morning, this further dipped to 219.
Among the accounts he still follows are those of fellow MPs Manickam Tagore and key office bearers such as Shaktisinh Gohil and Oomen Chandy; important spokespersons of the party including Abhishek Manusinghvi and Pawan Khera; and opposition leaders such as the Trinamool Congress (TMC)’s Derek O’Brien and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)’s Kanimozhi.
“I am not aware why Mr Gandhi has done this or whether it is genuine or not,” said KC Venugopal. However, at least two members of his office who are no longer followed by Gandhi confirmed that they were aware of the development.
“Many people were unhappy that he was following us. So he decided that he won’t follow anyone in his office. They are also trying to have a uniform policy on who Rahul Gandhi will follow,’’ said one member of his office who asked not to be named. Gandhi also unfollowed some journalists and fact checkers who he previously followed on twitter.
“It’s only fair. Does Prime Minister Modi follow the people who run his account like Hiren Joshi?” asked a second Congress leader who too asked not to be named. However, that comparison may not stand because Joshi who heads communications and IT in the Prime Minister's office, does not have a Twitter account. Gandhi’s Twitter account used to be handled by Nikhil Alva but is now handled by Alankar Sawai. HT reached out to Sawai for a comment but there was no response.
While some in the party called it a non-issue, social media norms now dictate that a public person is judged by who they follow. As of Wednesday morning, Gandhi was following 219 people and being followed by 18.8 million people.
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