Pune: Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s personal Twitter handle, @narendramodi, tweeted 2,143 times between October 2018 and March 2019, averaging one tweet every two hours and mentioning the handle of his political party, @BJP4India, the most--31 times.

Republic TV is the only news channel PM Modi retweeted, nine times, during these six months. Of all his 35 retweets, seven mentioned his own Twitter handle.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as PM Modi are active and extensive users of the social media, especially Twitter, and many of his tweets are further broadcast by India’s mainstream media.

With elections for India’s 17th Lok Sabha set to start this month, the last six months have been crucial for the ruling party’s campaign to get re-elected, which centres around PM Modi. In late 2018, the BJP witnessed reverses in three of five state assembly (legislature) elections in heartland states that it ruled, as well as the incumbent BJP government’s final though interim budget in February 2018.

Of the PM’s last six months' tweets, two subjects attracted the maximum retweets from followers--those related to the armed forces after the terror attack on a Central Reserve Police Force convoy in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir that killed 40 personnel in February 2019; and his national campaign ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ in response to Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s jibe “Chowkidar chor hai [the watchman is a thief]”.

Other events that grabbed headlines and led to a flurry of political tweets included the formation of the opposition alliance, the Mahagathbandhan (the grand alliance); the unveiling of Sardar Vallabhai Patel’s statue in Gujarat, the tallest in the world; and the celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Most tweets came in three weeks of October 2018

As mentioned earlier, PM Modi tweeted a total of 2,143 times in the span of 182 days to March 2019. This makes 12 tweets a day on an average. Month-wise, @narendramodi tweeted 16 times a day on an average in October 2018, which fell to 9 tweets in February 2019. In March 2019, just a month to the general elections, he tweeted an average of 11 times a day.

The week of October 15, 2018, was when the PM tweeted the most in the period--239 times. Of these tweets, 84 included the hashtag #Gandhi150, since it was the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Hashtags and mentions

After #Gandhi150, the prime minister’s second most-used hashtag was #MannKiBaat (31 times), about his monthly radio show by the same name. The #VoteKar and #MainBhiChowkidar hashtags, promoted in the run-up to the elections, have appeared 16 and 12 times, respectively.

PM Modi mentioned or tagged other Twitter handles a total of 539 times, of which BJP4India, as we said, got the maximum tags. The Twitter handles of BJP for the states of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh also made the top 10. All three of them had elections in December 2018.

The analysis of hashtags and mentions by PM Modi exclude retweets (35 out of the 2,143 tweets). However, in the retweets made by him, Republic TV (English and Hindi) were the only media outlets retweeted (nine times), after the channel conducted a recent interview with him during the PM’s work on his Lok Sabha election campaign.

Retweets & likes

The 2,143 tweets had around 7.7 million retweets and 32.4 million likes.

The maximum likes (271,932) and retweets (66,485), at the time the analysis was done, were for the tweet that welcomed Wing Commander Abhinandan back to India, and the fewest (75 and 40, respectively) were for a tweet that was written in Arabic about the performance of a song by a Jordanian singer that expresses love for India and Gandhi. It was one of the tweets with the hashtag #Gandhi150.

The tweet with the most likes (160,802) and retweets (56,398) that included a hashtag was the one in which PM Modi talked about how, “Everyone fighting corruption, dirt and social evils and is working hard for the progress of India is Chowkidaar”. It carried the hashtag #MainBhiChowkidaar and a campaign song and video related to it.

Of the top 10 retweeted tweets, four were about the armed forces, all related to the aftermath of the Pulwama incident. Three were about the nation, two of them mentioning the #MainBhiChowkidaar hashtag; two were about the launch of an anti-satellite missile by the Defence Research and Development Organization, and one was about the demise of former defence minister Manohar Parrikar.

(Raibagi, a data analyst and a graduate of computational and data journalism at Cardiff University, is an intern with IndiaSpend.)

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