Personal staff of BJP MPs carrying the leaders’ smartphones crowded the BJP parliamentary party office on Thursday, hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly mentioned at a parliamentary party meeting that very few MPs respond to his morning greeting on the NaMo app — a mobile phone application designed to disseminate information about the functioning of the government and the programmes of the Prime Minister.
While addressing BJP MPs in the morning, Modi had said, according to sources, “I am doing namaste to you, you should return the courtesy.” He then explained that only a handful of MPs reply to his morning greeting on the NaMo app and urged everyone to follow the app and use its secure interface to interact with him.
The lack of optimum usage of the app by elected BJP legislators was also highlighted by Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh when he took MPs through all the features of the app and the security features and encryption that make it more secure than other communication apps. At the BJP office in the afternoon, staff checked the phones of MPs to see if the app had been upgraded — many had not upgraded it since downloading it in 2015. The latest mobile numbers too were being incorporated into various groups on the app to ensure that nobody got left out.
The app, according to sources in the BJP information technology team, has several features including a high-end communication interface. There are separate groups for Lok Sabha MPs, Rajya Sabha MPs, party general secretaries, MLAs, MLCs and members of the Union council of ministers. It also allows MPs to not just communicate in a groups — including sending photos, video and audio files — but also interact with each other.
A special feature is that all those who have access to the restricted section — legislators and BJP office-bearers who have been given that access from the back end by the party — can form their own groups of citizens. In effect, the app may in some situations be used as a powerful campaign tool.
A BJP source said: “We have so far had over 1 crore downloads of the app. It is a one-point destination for all information on government policies, the Prime Minister’s speeches. Any citizen can use it to send his or her grievances or suggestions to the Prime Minister. But a really special feature is that an MP from say Jaipur can form his own community on the app of all users from Jaipur and use it to communicate with them. It can therefore be used as a very effective campaign tool.”