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

Subramanian Swamy laughs during a seminar against corruption in New Delhi
Reuters/Parivartan Sharma
Joke’s on who?
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

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:

Subramanian Swamy
Member of parliament, Rajya Sabha
Narendra Modi
Prime minister of India
Rahul Gandhi
President, Indian National Congress (INC)
Smriti Irani
Minister of textiles
Devendra Fadnavis
Chief minister, Maharashtra
Yogendra Yadav
President, Swaraj India
Late Manohar Parrikar
Former chief minister, Goa
Piyush Goyal
Minister of railways, minister of coal
Amit Shah
President, BJP
Shivraj Singh Chouhan
Vice president, BJP
Shashi Tharoor
Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
Omar Abdullah
Former chief minister, Jammu & Kashmir
Arvind Kejriwal
Chief minister, Delhi
Yogi Adityanath
Chief minister, Uttar Pradesh
Akhilesh Yadav
Former chief minister, Uttar Pradesh
Suresh Prabhu
Minister of commerce & industry, minister of civil aviation
Manohar Lal
Chief minister, Haryana
Arun Jaitley
Minister of finance, minister of corporate affairs
Rajnath Singh
Minister of home affairs
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.

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