Agencies: After a report on Twitter revealed the number of fake followers popular world leaders have, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked each BJP MP to get at least 300,000 ‘genuine’ likes on their Facebook page. While Twitter later clarified that the audit report was “deeply flawed and should not be taken seriously”, the target given to members of parliament was apparently set during a dinner meeting of BJP MPs with PM Modi and party president Amit Shah at the new party headquarters in Delhi on Friday.
According to a report in Hindustan Times, three leaders from the saffron party told a reporter of the news organisation about the development. The leaders also claimed that the PM offered to hold a live video call with workers from their constituencies if the target is achieved.
A BJP MP, who attended the meeting, said the Prime Minister asked which of the MPs were active on Facebook, to which most people raised their hands. The PM then asked how many of them had 300,000 likes on their pages, to which only a few responded in the affirmative. “The PM offered to address, through live video call, the mandal-level workers in our constituencies if we achieved this target,” the BJP MP said on condition of anonymity. “He was particular that these likes should be ‘genuine’ likes, and should not be ‘bought’ through marketing companies offering such services,” a second BJP MP said.
The PM’s stress on the importance of using social media effectively comes nearly a year ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. It coincides with government’s warning of consequences to Facebook if the election process in India was interfered with, in light of the political storm over alleged breach of FB data by election management company Cambridge Analytics to influence poll outcomes in other countries including the US.
BJP MPs Poonam Mahajan, Pratap Simha and Rajiv Pratap Rudy were held up by Joshi as examples of MPs who were using social media effectively, said the first leader quoted above. At Friday’s dinner, Hiren Joshi, an officer on special duty (Information Technology) in the Prime Minister’s Office, made a presentation to the parliamentarians on how to use the NaMo app for dissemination of information related to the achievements of the government in different sectors, said another MP present at the meeting.
The NaMo app has irked many political party leaders earlier. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had accused PM Modi of misusing his position to build personal database “with data on millions of Indians via the NaMo App promoted by the government”. “Modi misusing PM position to build personal database with data on millions of Indians via the NaMo App promoted by Govt. If as PM he wants to use tech to communicate with India, no problem. But use the official PMO APP for it. This data belongs to India, not Modi,” Gandhi had said in a tweet.