PM vs CM: A hashtag battle between #ThullaKejri and #NithallaModi
The ongoing tug-of-war between chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Delhi Police was reflected on social media as #ThullaKejri became the top Twitter trend late on Monday evening. But, by Tuesday morning, the game changed with #NithallaModi emerging as the top trend.
Ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament, #ThullaKejri tweets criticised Kejriwal’s governance while #NithallaModi was appended to tweets questioning the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The hashtag #ThullaKejri stemmed from Kejriwal’s
— a derogatory slang commonly used in Delhi to refer to policemen. The Aam Aadmi Party’s critics on social media used the term to target Kejriwal and question his comments and governance.
In an interview to India Today, Kejriwal said last week: "A case can be lodged by the Anti-Corruption Branch against anyone for being involved in corrupt practices. But these people say you can't lodge a case against members of the Delhi Police. If a 'thulla' of the Delhi Police asks a roadside vendor for money, a case should not be registered against him, this is not acceptable."
Tweets posted under #NithallaModi, which seemed to have been developed as a counter to #ThullaKejri, focused on the emerging allegations of corruption against senior BJP leaders, including Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje and foreign minister Sushma Swaraj. Some tweets questioned Modi’s frequent foreign trips.
The political battle of hashtags, which supporters of the BJP, Congress and AAP indulged in, did not go unnoticed by social media users. Observing the development, several Twitter users commented on the changing top trends.
User @TheVivekSharma wrote: “Now this is getting interesting. #NithallaModi is getting tough competition by #ThullaKejri. Bring it on!”
“BJP n AAP Bhakts trying to show down each other's GOD, trending #ThullaKejri n #NithallaModi shows their same DNA, thinking n culture,” wrote user Manish Kediyal.
Others commented that #NithallaModi showcased the frustration of AAP supporters.
'The hashtag warfare'
Keen social media observers said the battle of hashtags has been going on for a long time now, with social media teams of political parties quickly floating one to counter another.
On earlier occasions, whenever a hashtag questioning the NDA government began trending, a counter-hashtag was floated by BJP supporters. In May, soon after Congress and AAP supporters tweeted using #ModiInsultsIndia, the opposing trend #ModiIndiaspride
“These days on Twitter, what we routinely witness is a new kind of modern day warfare – hashtag warfare. One political party starts a hashtag based on a current event, trying its level best to disparage an opposing party. The opposing party responds with its own hashtag, trying to balance the equation,” said software engineer and internet activist Pratik Sinha.
“The party which can get the hashtags trended for the longest and highest wins the battle. The battle-scarred go home to prepare for yet another day,” said Sinha, who runs the popular Facebook page and Twitter account The Truth of Gujarat.
In a recent interview to Scroll.in, journalist Rajdeep Sardesai too has spoke about such trends.
“I am sure it’s (social media armies of political parties) organised. Look at the manner in which trends are built systematically, be it feku or pappu. What this has done is bring down the quality of conversation in social media and to reduce it to one-upmanship,” he said.
(The writer tweets as @saha_abhi1990)