On Twitter, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, would seem to be the person who won this election, while the Aam Aadmi Party is the party that won.
Statistics on the use of the platform shared by Twitter India exclusively with The Hindu show that users posted 56 million election-related tweets from January 1 this year until 5 p.m. on May 12. Mr. Modi was the most popular election-related term (11.1 mn tweets), followed by the Aam Aadmi Party, its leader Arvind Kejriwal, and the BJP. The Congress’ leader, Rahul Gandhi, who does not have a Twitter handle, was the fifth most tweeted about while the party came in at the tenth spot. Every polling day saw between 5.4 lakh and 8.2 lakh election-related tweets, with April 24 seeing the highest election-related Twitter activity, the numbers show.
The three parties dominated the conversation on Twitter. Formed in November 2012, the AAP, which is contesting its first Lok Sabha election, is now the party with the most followers on Twitter (6.8 lakh as of May 12). “The AAP is an entirely volunteer-driven party. We had decided before the election that we will not spend money on social media. We have no paid staffers; even I am a volunteer,” Ankit Lal, who heads the AAP’s IT cell, told The Hindu. The AAP’s social media network extends down the district-level and the volunteer force coordinates its message on Facebook groups, WhatsApp groups and over SMS, Mr. Lal said.
The BJP has five staffers for social media and the rest are all volunteers, its IT cell head Arvind Gupta told The Hindu. He said “99% of the [party’s social media] push is attributable to volunteers across India who are connected in networks.” These groups, coordinated by the main cell, number 300-400 and are organised by Lok Sabha constituency.
The Congress woke up late to social media, Priyanka Chaturvedi, spokesperson and active party defender on Twitter, admitted. The party’s Twitter presence is also volunteer-driven, as well as being supported by office-bearers, she said. The party’s lower profile on the medium had a lot to do with Twitter being driven by negativity, she said. “We have tried to keep our conversations positive, without abuse and talk about our work,” she said.
Mr. Modi remained the most popular leader on Twitter from January 1 to May 12. He had the most followers (3.96 mn as of 8 p.m. on May 12), and dominated conversations every polling day — he was the most tweeted on every election date except April 7 when the BJP was the most tweeted about (of all election-related terms).
“Twitter [was the] main platform for online political conversations this Lok Sabha election,” Raheel Khursheed, Head - News, Politics & Govt. at Twitter India, told The Hindu. On “any metric; number of conversations, politician engagement with voters and vice versa or real-time breaking election news,” the medium dominated political conversations online, he said. “Keep in mind, in 2009, there was just one politician with 6,000 followers on Twitter to now, when every party and candidate is represented,” he said.