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Subramanian Swamy laughs during a seminar against corruption in New Delhi
Reuters/Parivartan Sharma
Joke’s on who?

This Indian politician—not Modi or Gandhi—is making the best use of Twitter

By Ananya Bhattacharya

In 2013, Narendra Modi overtook Shashi Tharoor, the original “Minister Twitter” and member of his rival party, as the most followed Indian politician. With 47 million followers, the Indian prime minister still holds that title.

However, it is someone else who’s making better use of the platform, according to new research by Dentsu Webchutney Research Labs.

Subramanian Swamy, a member of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was ranked at the top in a list of the 50 best politicians when it came to using Twitter as a medium to engage with voters, the digital advertising company revealed in a report.

Webchutney has ranked the politicians based on five parameters: total number of followers, original tweets (excluding retweets and replies), engagement per original tweet, response rate measured as replies to the public, and total retweets.

“The firebrand BJP leader joined Twitter early in July 2009, amongst the earliest of all indexed leaders,” the report noted. “With an average of 6 original tweets a day (and close to 20 per day with retweets and replies factored in), he ranks highest on the axes of response rate.”

Here are the top 20:

Rank Politician Political position
1 Subramanian Swamy Member of parliament, Rajya Sabha
2 Narendra Modi Prime minister of India
3 Rahul Gandhi President, Indian National Congress (INC)
4 Smriti Irani Minister of textiles
5 Devendra Fadnavis Chief minister, Maharashtra
6 Yogendra Yadav President, Swaraj India
7 Late Manohar Parrikar Former chief minister, Goa
8 Piyush Goyal Minister of railways, minister of coal
9 Amit Shah President, BJP
10 Shivraj Singh Chouhan Vice president, BJP
11 Shashi Tharoor Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
12 Omar Abdullah Former chief minister, Jammu & Kashmir
13 Arvind Kejriwal Chief minister, Delhi
14 Yogi Adityanath Chief minister, Uttar Pradesh
15 Akhilesh Yadav Former chief minister, Uttar Pradesh
16 Suresh Prabhu Minister of commerce & industry, minister of civil aviation
17 Manohar Lal Chief minister, Haryana
18 Arun Jaitley Minister of finance, minister of corporate affairs
19 Rajnath Singh Minister of home affairs
20 Sushma Swaraj Minister of external affairs

Modi’s follower count and total engagement—sum of all likes, retweets, and replies—puts him ahead of rival Congress president Rahul Gandhi, but Gandhi has him beat when it comes to engagement per tweet. “During the course of the study, Rahul Gandhi tweeted just 39 times, but his overall engagement rate is 65% higher than Narendra Modi’s,” Webchutney found.

“While Twitter is mandatory for leaders representing the public, other leaders have used it as a means to raise their profile in a new medium altogether,” Sidharth Rao, co-founder and CEO, Dentsu Webchutney said.

One factor giving some politicians a leg up over others is conversing in local languages, the findings show. In the month of February, 5,677 original tweets from the 50 politicians spanned Hindi, English, and seven other regional languages.