AS the first step towards fulfilling his stated objective of transparency and participation in governance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked all his ministers to open Twitter accounts and create Facebook pages.
The new ministers have been advised to use the microblogging site and the social media platform extensively for public outreach. They have been asked to put all policy initiatives in the public domain through these platforms, initiate discussions, seek feedback and incorporate valuable suggestions, besides maintaining a constant dialogue with people, said sources.
“Like his poll campaign, crowd-sourcing and digital media will continue to play a crucial role in governance too... Public outreach is an important part of the PM’s governance model and social media will be an important tool towards that end. The new PM has already issued a diktat to all his ministers to be present on Twitter and Facebook and interact with masses,” said a person linked to the development.
Modi has been active on Twitter for the last two years. Senior Cabinet Ministers like Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley — all part of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) — also have Twitter accounts.
According to Modi’s strategists, social media played a crucial role in building “traction” in 160 “digital constituencies” or Lok Sabha seats where a large number (more than four crore as identified by the BJP) of people were active on social media platforms.
Besides his independent Twitter handle @narendramodi, the PM now also has an official account @PMOIndia. While his personal account is handled by a team led by his OSD from Gujarat, Hiren Joshi, the @PMOIndia account will be managed by officials from the Prime Minister’s Office. The two accounts together already have over six million followers.
“His personal account will be for communication in his capacity as a political leader... an individual. That’s the space where one will see messages such as Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif telling him (reference to a tweet by Modi on May 26) about his mother, whereas the official account will be for official communication such as placing a new policy document for public perusal and feedback or communicating with world leaders,” said another person who is part of the strategy group.
Soon after his swearing-in, the PMO also relaunched its website (pmindia.nic.in), with Modi’s message to the nation. “I envision this website as a very important medium of direct communication between us,” he said in the message.