- PM said he's thinking of giving up Twitter, Facebook, Instagram accounts
- PM Modi is one of the most followed world leaders on social media
- "Give up hatred, not social media accounts," Rahul Gandhi tweeted
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday left social media users wondering as he tweeted that he was thinking of giving up his Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube accounts in a week. He did not elaborate on the reason behind doing so.
PM Modi is one of the most followed world leaders on social media with 53.3 million followers on Twitter, 44 million on Facebook, 35.2 million on Instagram and 4.5 million on YouTube.
This Sunday, thinking of giving up my social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & YouTube. Will keep you all posted.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 2, 2020
The Prime Minister, who has not held a single press conference since taking office in 2014, has prided himself on communicating directly with his supporters via social media.
His announcement around 9 pm on Monday amassed over 65,000 likes, 42,000 replies and 22,000 retweets within an hour on Twitter besides triggering intense speculation.
With a highly active presence online since joining Twitter and Facebook in 2009, PM Modi has scooped up thousands of 'likes' and replies within minutes of sharing each post.
However, he has been criticised sometimes for avoiding prickly subjects such as the recent violence in Delhi which drew his first response after three days and the spate of mob killings during his first term.
He has also attracted criticism for following accounts of supporters accused of vicious online trolling, abusing journalists and even celebrating the murder of one.
In recent weeks, social media has come under intense scrutiny in India over hate speeches and incendiary remarks fanning violence over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Political leaders - many from the PM Modi's own party BJP - have been have been called out for divisive comments and openly threatening violence.
His post on Monday about leaving social media, also shared on Instagram and Facebook, drew a deluge of reactions including dismay, bewilderment and an endless stream of sarcastic replies from his detractors.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted:
Give up hatred, not social media accounts. pic.twitter.com/HDymHw2VrB— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) March 2, 2020
His party colleague Shashi Tharoor suggested it could be the first step towards a greater effort of censorship in India.
The PM's abrupt announcement has led many to worry whether it's a prelude to banning these services throughout the country too. As @narendramodi knows well, social media can also be a force for good & for positive & useful messaging. It doesn't have to be about spreading hate. https://t.co/B87Y7Mc32a— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) March 2, 2020
Others speculated that the move could have something to do with 'Women's Day' that will be observed this year on Sunday, March 8.
But a large number of reactions included those from his supporters urging him to reconsider as "#NoSir" became a top trend on Twitter with over 30,000 tweets.
One of his supporters wrote, "Why sir? this is the only way to be in touch with you. We know that you are pained with the recent situation but please don't do this. We all know that this phase will go. You are our supporter. We got strength from you. You are our biggest inspiration."