Smriti, Rahul lock horn on Twitter

Smriti, Rahul lock horn  on Twitter

Twitter exploded with trend warfare on Saturday as Union minister Smriti Irani mocked Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, triggering a backlash that rode on a Tamil-pride wave over a Vijay film.

Trending top since morning, #RahulWaveInKazakh and #TamiliansVsModi had the twitterati in a comic tizzy, as cinema, politics, economics and the North-South divide battled for eyeballs.

But firing the first salvo was Smriti, taking one big swipe at Rahul over the sudden surge in his Twitter popularity.

She had retweeted an ANI analytical report that seemed to suggest that most retweets for Rahul’s official handle @OfficeOfRG had a Russian, Kazakh or Indonesian origin.

Quick to grab the analysis, Smriti tweeted this pregnant query: “Perhaps @OfficeOfRG planning to sweep polls in Russia, Indonesia & Kazakhstan??”

Union minister Smriti Irani on Saturday questioned the sudden spike in Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s popularity on Twitter.

Smriti, who rarely misses an opportunity to take on the Gandhi family ever since she lost the 2014 polls from Amethi to Rahul, sarcastically remarked that perhaps the Congress scion was “planning to sweep the polls in Russia, Indonesia and Kazakhstan”.

The BJP MP’s barb followed a news report that wondered whether Bots, a software application that helps automated mass retweeting, was behind the rise in Rahul’s popularity on the microblogging site.

The reportage analysed closely the October 15 retweet of the Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG), which said, “Modi ji quick; looks like President Trump needs another hug.” It was in response to US President Donald Trump’s tweet, praising better relations with Pakistan and its leaders. Rahul’s tweet spiraled to 30,000 retweets.

Its digital examination revealed, stated the report, that Bots, containing a Russian, Kazakh or Indonesian feature, were routinely RT-ing Rahul’s tweets.

Trading barbs

The Congress, however, jumped to the defence of their vice president.

Congress leader Sanjay Jha retweeted a post that said the story was based on 10 Bots that were activated four days ago, but that Rahul's tweet is six days old.Twitter exploded with trend warfare on Saturday as Union Minister Smriti Irani mocked Congress Vice-president Rahul Gandhi, triggering a backlash that rode on a Tamil trend over a Vijay film.

Trending top since morning, #RahulWaveInKazakh and #TamiliansVsModi had the twitterati in a comic tizzy, as cinema, politics, economics and the North-South divide battled for eyeballs.

But firing the first salvo was Irani, taking one big swipe at Gandhi over his sudden surge in Twitter popularity. She had retweeted an ANI analytical report that seemed to suggest that most retweets for Gandhi's official handle @OfficeOfRG had a Russian, Kazakh or Indonesian origin.

Quick to grab the analysis, Irani tweeted this pregnant query: “Perhaps @OfficeOfRG planning to sweep polls in Russia, Indonesia & Kazakhstan ??” In seven hours straight, the tweet had garnered 7,700 likes and 4,900 retweets. The political bait was thrown and the scene was set for a classic Twitter war.

In clinical detail, ANI had dissected an October 15 retweet by @OfficeOfRG. That handle used a US President Donald Trump tweet praising American-Pakistani relations to deliver this punch: “Modi ji quick, looks like President Trump needs another hug.” The 30,000 retweets for this remark was what caught everyone's attention.

Stating from reports that Gandhi had recorded a resurgence on social media, Irani was instantly drawn to the ANI report that analysed just why the popularity was soaring: Automated bots were on a mass retweet drive.

For Gandhi's social media team, the top-trending #TamiliansVsModi offered the perfect platform for a counter salvo. Tamil film buffs were in a defiant mood, angered by the Tamilnadu BJP's demand for cutting out a scene against GST in superstar Vijay's latest movie 'Mersal.'

The Rahul tweet was aimed directly at the prime minister: “Mr Modi, Cinema is a deep expression of Tamil culture and language. Don't try to demon-etise Tamil pride by interfering in Mersal.” By late Saturday evening, the tweet had gained 36,000 likes, 17,000 retweets and over 5,500 replies, all set to take the battle to Sunday and beyond.


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