With Twitter emerging as a major campaign-ground for the first time for Lok Sabha elections, all major parties and leaders are using this platform and other social networks to reach out to the people, especially the young population. (Agencies)
According to latest data compiled by Twitter India, the Indian unit of US-based microblogging giant, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate has now close to 3.7 million followers -- the highest for any Indian politician.
Modi has a lead of more than 1.5 million over second- ranked Shashi Tharoor, a Congress leader with 2.13 million followers.
Kejriwal (1.62 million) comes third, followed by Manmohan Singh (1.17 million) at fourth, BJP's Sushma Swaraj in the fifth spot (1.03 million) and beauty queen-turned-politician Gul Panag at sixth (0.83 million), Twitter data shows.
Subramaniam Swamy of BJP is at seventh (0.49 million), Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is ranked eighth (0.48 million), Ajay Maken of Congress at ninth (0.27 million) and Kumar Vishwas of AAP at 10th (0.25 million).
The top 20 club also includes Smriti Irani, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Derek O'Brien, Varun Gandhi and Meenkashi Lekhi, among others, shows the data as on April 12, 2014.
However, when it comes to the rise in number of followers since January 1, 2014 -- a period also marked with increased political activities -- Kejriwal, who headed the Delhi government for 49 days, has seen over 6.29 lakh additional followers.
Modi comes a close second with 6.28 lakh new followers in the same period, followed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (1.8 lakh), Sushma Swaraj (1.76 lakh), Kumar Vishwas (1.28 lakh) and Shashi Tharoor (1.26 lakh) among the top-20 politicians, shows the data from the micro-blogging site.
When compared in terms of percentage growth in number of followers so far in 2014, BJP's Arun Jaitley tops the chart (269 percent), followed by Anurag Thakur from same party (256 percent), Kumar Vishwas (102 percent), Kejriwal (63 percent) and BJP's Smriti Irani (60 percent).
"Twitter has enabled people to discover leaders, parties and issues that are most meaningful to them, connect with them and express their opinion, which was not the case in the earlier elections. Political leaders are using Twitter to communicate with their constituents, break news, shape discourse and influence opinion," says Raheel Khursheed, Head - News, Politics and Government @TwitterIndia.
The data further shows that Gul Panag of AAP leads the charts in terms of Twitter activity with over 78,000 tweets since the day she joined Twitter.
Swamy, known for his strong views, comes second with nearly 30,000 tweets and Derek O'Brien of Trinamool is placed third with about 25,000 tweets, followed by Tharoor at fourth with around 21,900 and Abdullah at fifth spot with over 6,500 tweets.
"As far as the ongoing elections go, a platform like ours for live, public conversations will continue to play a consistent and central role in a democracy where every Indian citizen wants to have an equal say. This is truly a Twitter election," adds Khursheed.
Interestingly, both Modi and Kejriwal -- pitted against each other from Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency – have not crossed the 5,000 tweet mark.
Neither Congress chief Sonia Gandhi nor her son Rahul, the party vice-president, is present on Twitter.
In terms of political parties, the twitter handle of AAP is the most popular, beating the likes of BJP and Congress. While AAP has 6.2 lakh followers, BJP has 4.3 lakh and Congress 1.67 lakh. Smaller parties like National Conference and Trinamool are also present with modest followings.
However, BJP is the most vocal on Twitter among parties with nearly 44,000 tweets, followed by AAP with 16,400 tweets and Congress with 3,000-odd tweets.
With Twitter emerging as a major campaign-ground for the first time for Lok Sabha elections, all major parties and leaders are using this platform and other social networks to reach out to the people, especially the young population.