Narendra Modi’s already been conducting diplomacy via Twitter

Narendra Modi tweets his mind.
Narendra Modi tweets his mind.
Image: AP Photo
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Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect Narendra Modi tweeting at Barack Obama after our original piece ran.

India’s prime minister-elect, Narendra Modi, who swept to victory last week, has been tweeting about calls from heads of other nations since last night. Naturally, a whole lot of world leaders, including US president Barack Obama and Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif, have called to congratulate him.

Since last night, Modi has been acknowledging the calls and thanking the leaders on Twitter, on occasion adding a brief line about ties. Yet he took a much longer time to mention the call from Obama or the tweet from Secretary John Kerry. Obama had a warm relationship with Modi’s predecessor, Manmohan Singh, and hosted the first state dinner in his honor. Meanwhile, Modi takes Twitter seriously, and has been thanking people for their wishes on Twitter as well, including opposition politicians and movie stars.

It started with Canadian PM Stephen Harper.

Canada has been a country partner for Modi’s flagship investor summit, Vibrant Gujarat, since 2011. Japan has been the other long-standing partner. In 2015, six new countries are slated to participate.

Then came leaders from neighboring Nepal.

And a line about ties with Nepal.

Then came Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

“India-Russia friendship has stood the test of time. We will further strengthen our relations in a wide range of fields,” he said in a subsequent tweet. 

And Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.

In 2012, Modi visited Japan and several Japanese companies have set up factories in Gujarat. Some 40% of the proposed Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor, being developed with Japanese funding, passes through Gujarat. “Personally, I have a wonderful experience of working with Japan as CM (chief minister). I am sure we will take India-Japan ties to newer heights,” Modi wrote in a subsequent tweet. 

Modi thanked South Africa’s Jacob Zuma next.

Followed by France’s Francois Hollande.

The Modi government will decide whether or not to confirm the $28 billion deal to buy fighter 126 jets from France’s Dassault Aviation.

He thanked German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy came next.

And then he thanked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Nearly three hours after the round of tweets reported in this post, Modi mentioned another round of world leaders, including the prime ministers of Fiji and New Zealand. And then he mentioned US president Barack Obama.

Sure, foreign policy is not conducted on Twitter. But this is the first public glimpse of Modi’s thoughts about other nations that we have seen. And given Modi’s history with the United States and past denials of his visa, it makes sense he’s taking time to warm to India’s third-largest trading partner. In his initial silence, Modi’s made one thing clear: Relations between him and Washington will be much different than the recent past.