It all began with a single tweet at 6PM on May 18.
By midnight, according to data gathered through social media analytics tool, Talkwalker, beginning with that one tweet six hours earlier, the hashtag #ModiInsultsIndia had been tweeted out over 8,000 times.
The hashtag itself was a reaction to prime minister Narendra Modi’s purported comments in Shanghai, China. “Earlier, you felt ashamed of being born Indian,” Modi reportedly said. “Now you feel proud to represent the country. Indians abroad had all hoped for a change in government last year.”
Then, in Seoul, two days later, he repeated the same sentiment. It clearly didn’t go down well with some.
The outrage poured onto Twitter and #ModiInsultsIndia swiftly rose unchallenged—until early in the morning of May 19, when the ostensible counterattack, via a new hashtag, #ModiIndiasPride, was swiftly despatched.
Here’s how the entire contest played out on Twitter through May 19.
The result of the relentless online squabbling was that both hashtags eventually ended up trending on Twitter, although curiously the trending geographies were rather different.
So, if you needed more proof about how seriously social media has come to be taken by India’s political parties, begin with last Tuesday’s Thrilla on Twitter.