After 30 years of Congress government at the Centre, India woke up to a new and pro-active Narendra Modi-led Bhartiya Janata Party at the Centre a year back. It lured Indian voters with its reformist policies and innovative mindset. Besides, reforms in the financial sector, the new government had surprises for the marketing industry in India too, the new government was the dawn of digital India as it welcomes India’s first social media politician to the system.
Mr Modi’s campaign managers had used social media as an effective platform to hook social media users in India to the process of development. All Modi campaigns were heavily publicised on the social media as the new digital-savvy took charge at the centre but as Mr Modi completes a year into the system, he has attracted some bad press too.
During his visit to China and South Korea, Mr Modi commented that prior to his government at the centre, Indians were ashamed of being an India citizen but this changed with his government. His comments came under fire as #ModiInsultsIndia started trending on Twitter. Mr Modi continued to reiterate the sentiment in other conferences as well.
“Till last year Indians were ashamed of admitting they were from India. They said ‘humne kya paap kiya ke hum Hindustan me paida huwe? (What sins have we committed that we are born in India), But now the scene has changed completely. Now India is the fastest growing economy in the world – all the credit rating companies and investment funds acknowledge that,” said Mr Modi addressing a gathering in South Korea.
Criticism for his comment with #ModiInsultsIndia garnered 38,000 tweets in the first half of Tuesday. Twitter outrage was evident as users tweeted mentioning India’s achievement at an International level, including its economic development and historical figures who have made India proud in the past.
Just as with any brand, Mr Modi who used social media to his advantage up until Tuesday, there is also a chance that the tool can backlash on him, as it did in this case. He was trending globally on Tuesday, but for all the wrong reasons. While social media can be used to publicise a brand such as Mr Modi’s, it can also be a platform wherein the criticism of his beliefs start trending.
Furthermore, India media too picked up the trend quickly which fuelled the fire for #ModiInsultsIndia. All this coming so close to the first anniversary of the government cannot be good news.
But soon enough, the PR machinery backing Mr Modi emerged in effort to elaborate Mr Modi’s remark and steer it in a positive direction. #ModiInsultsIndia was a worldwide trend on Twitter but towards the end of the day a counter trend #ModiIndiasPride was among top India trends on Twitter. There were tweets flowing mentioning India’s achievement post the new government and Mr Modi’s fondness for his country.
Like any other brand, Mr Modi has to be careful in how he engages with social media as even being the Prime Minister does not spare him from trending globally for the wrong reason.