From Digvijaya Singh to Arvind Kejriwal, social media a double edged sword for political leaders

Recent victim to social media backlash is Digvijaya, who triggered political storm after his pictures with a journalist went viral on social media.

By: Express News Service Written by Shivani Vig | New Delhi | Updated: May 2, 2014 9:25:11 am
Social media has also proved to be troublesome for the politicians. Social media has also proved to be troublesome for the politicians.

It’s quick, crisp and direct. And, at times it’s fun. This election season, leaders get instant fame in the 140 characters. Social media has become an important tool in the election battleground for the political leaders. It provides a platform for them to reach out to voters and send across their messages.

Twitter, Facebook and YouTube may surely have turned into an easy platform to connect to larger masses but the social media on several occasions has also proved to be troublesome for the politicians. Many have learnt it the hard way.

And the recent victim to it is the Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, who was in the middle of a political storm after his pictures with journalist Amrita Rai went viral on social media. Singh confirmed the relationship with the journalist on Twitter as he tweeted: “I have no hesitation in accepting my relationship with Amrita Rai. She and her husband have already filed a mutual consent divorce case. Once that is decided we would formalise it. But I do condemn encroachment in our private life.” READ FULL STORY

Singh is not the only political leader to have been embroiled in the social media controversies. Here is the compilation of a few social media backlash suffered by political leaders:

Arvind Kejriwal & the leaked video: The Aam Aadmi Party was left red-faced by a video on YouTube which happened to indicate party convenor and former Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal seeking to influence his portrayal in a TV interview. The video — of a conversation between Kejriwal and an Aaj Tak journalist on February 14 following his resignation as CM — showed the AAP leader telling the interviewer to play up a certain segment of their interaction and speaking about why he wants to avoid a subject. The video drew sharp criticism from the political parties while AAP claimed that the leaked video was an attempt to malign the party’s image.

Shazia Ilmi’s video on ‘secular Muslims’: A video surfaced on YouTube showing AAP candidate from Ghaziabad Shazia Ilmi sitting amongst a group of Muslims and saying that “Muslims would have to be communal”. The leaked video showed Ilmi saying that instead of Muslims being secular, they should be more communal. “Muslims don’t vote for their own community. Arvind Kejriwal is one of your own. You all should not be so secular, look after your own home. Other parties have fixed votes. Look after your own interests. This is controversial but necessary,” she was shown as saying in the video. The AAP leader was under fire following the video leak even as her party distanced itself from Ilmi’s comments.

Tweet war between Sunanda Puskhar & Pak journo: Earlier this year, Union Minister Shashi Tharoor had landed in a controversy over a cross-border tweet war involving his wife Sunanda Pushkar and a Pakistani woman journalist Mehr Tarar in which allegations of an affair between him and the foreigner came up. Two days after the Twitter rant, Sunanda Pushkar was found dead in a hotel room. The tweet war, which had set the social media abuzz, also saw Sunanda Pushkar allege that Tarar was an ISI agent. As the row surrounding Tharoor escalated, the controversy-prone minister took to Twitter to come out with a joint statement with his wife Sunanda Pushkar to say they were “happily married”. Tharoor, Minister of State for Human Resources Development, found himself in the controversy barely months before the Lok Sabha elections. READ FULL STORY

Tharoor’s cattle tweet: Union Minister Shashi Tharoor had triggered a political storm in 2009 with his ‘cattle class’ tweet. Tharoor was quoted as saying on Twitter that he would travel in “cattle class out of solidarity with all our holy cows,” which was termed “unacceptable and totally insensitive” by his party, the Congress. His remark had came in the backdrop of an austerity drive in the Government and in Congress. The comment had been strongly rebuked by the party. Tharoor had to apologise for it as he said that he meant no disrespect to economy class travellers. “It’s a silly expression but meant no disrespect to economy travellers, only to airlines for herding us in like cattle. Many have misunderstood,” Tharoor wrote on ‘Twitter’ from Liberia, where he was on a visit.

Robert Vadra’s mango man remark on Facebook: Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, had to close his Facebook account, reportedly after a controversy over a remark he posted on the social networking site. Vadra was slammed by many activists, including Arvind Kejriwal, after he reportedly posted on his Facebook page a message that read: “mango people in a banana republic.” “Mango people”, translated into Hindi, means aam aadmi (common people). Vadra took what appeared to be a contemptuous dig at Arvind Kejriwal and his team, updating his Facebook status to “Mango people in banana republic”, an apparent reference to the ‘aam aadmi’ for whom the activist claims to be fighting. Vadra reportedly deleted that remark later. But by then, Mr Kejriwal had already taken notice of the comment and decided to make some noise about it. As Kejriwal’s India Against Corruption (IAC) reacted sharply, Vadra shut down the account as he was unhappy with the controversy over “a light comment” made by him.

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