Media-shy Haryana CM does well online | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Media-shy Haryana CM does well online

Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar is not very accessible. He has kept the conventional media - both print and electronic - at arm's length so far, preferring one-way communication through tweets and official handouts to extended interaction with journalists.

punjab Updated: Apr 22, 2015 10:09 IST
Navneet Sharma
Manohar-Lal-Khattar-Haryana-CM
Manohar-Lal-Khattar-Haryana-CM

Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar is not very accessible. He has kept the conventional media - both print and electronic - at arm's length so far, preferring one-way communication through tweets and official handouts to extended interaction with journalists.


But the 60-year-old first-time chief minister is going places online. Powered by his rise to the top political position in the state, Khattar@mlkhattar has crossed 100,000 followers on the social media platform Twitter. He is the third most followed politician - those who have contested elections or are active in the state - in Haryana behind Yogendra Yadav @AapYogendra of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Naveen Jindal @MPNaveenJindal of the Congress.

The one-time RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) pracharak, who made his Twitter debut in May 2011, had a slow start, just like he began his inning in the government, on the micro-blogging site. Khattar had just about 10,000 followers till October last year when he, as a debutant MLA, was handpicked by the saffron party to lead its first government in the state. The numbers have surged since at the rate of 17,000 new clicks on the "follow" button every month on an average.

Though the six-digit figure is not something to brag about - his mentor Narendra Modi has 11.8 million followers - in the context of popularity of Indian politicians on online platforms, it is not a small number in a state where political and non-political personalities are taking baby steps on social media. The CM's growing followers, according to one of his aides, will help improve his 'direct communication' with the people in the state. The chief minister's office (CMO) also has created an official handle (@cmohry), but it is still to take off.

Besides Khattar, Rohtak MP Deepender Singh Hooda, finance minister Capt Abhimanyu and health minister Anil Vij, Union ministers Birender Singh, Rao Inderjit Singh and Krishan Pal Gurjar, Haryana Congress chief Ashok Tanwar, former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Haryana Janhit Congress president Kuldeep Bishnoi, Hisar MP Dushyant Singh Chautala (INLD) and former power minister Capt Ajay Singh Yadav (Congress) are among the active tweeters in the state. As for non-politicians, IAS officer Ashok Khemka has over 83,000 followers.

While the CM's tweets, mostly about his policy announcements, public engagements etc., are straight and official, his ministerial colleague Anil Vij @anilvijmantri has set the corridors of power abuzz with his craftily-worded sardonic tweets, taking subtle, and occasionally not-so-subtle, digs at his party, the chief minister, and the style of working of the state bureaucracy. He also regularly tweets about his official decisions, surprise checks and the action recommended against the slack staff after his field visits. While the minister, seen by some bureaucrats and non-official appointees as a political gadfly, trails some of his colleagues in Twitter followers, his scathing tweets have ensured he gets more space in traditional media.

Twitter score
Yogendra Yadav @AapYogendra - 3.85 lakh followers
Naveen Jindal @MPNaveenJindal - 1.51 lakh
Manohar Lal Khattar @mlkhattar - 1 lakh
Deepender Hooda @DeependerSHooda - 89,854
Ashok Khemka @AshokKhemka_IAS - 83,327