One of the most interesting developments of the last few days of Narendra Modi speeches at multiple events is that the MSM has run out of fire. NDTV, Headlines Today, CNN-IBN found that the battle on Social Media and Twitter was far more exciting than the silly debates on their channels. Needless to say, many in the MSM were quite upset that #PappuCII had trended during and after Rahul Gandhi’s speech at CII on April 4. The Pappu trend was covered internationally and each journal and news outlet explained what the term meant. In short, RahulG as “Pappu” was being referred to as a naïve, dumb kid. Well, considering his speech and interaction at CII it wasn’t quite off the mark. Naturally, channels like NDTV and Congress supporters were thirsting for revenge and wanted desperately to similarly trend the Modi speeches in a negative fashion.
Narendra Modi’s speeches themselves were largely on expected lines. There was great oratory, facts, wit and sarcasm. It started with the women’s wing of FICCI, then an interaction at the ThinkIndia event at CNN-IBN on April 8 and then another one at Kolkata on April 9. Minutes after the Kolkata event ended, NDTV jumped for joy and reported #Feku was still trending on top. This #Feku hashtag was supposedly the Congress response to #PappuCII as our media would have you believe. So Headlines Today, NDTV and some newspaper outlets were indulging in the same predictable LIES again. Unable to come up with anything substantial against Modi’s speeches, except the usual suspects singing the 2002 song, the media was thrilled with the #Feku tag. Headlines Today reported “Congress draws first blood” in Twitter battle and then headlined “Feku trumps ModiStormsFICC”. The hashtag #ModiStormsFICCI started with a tweet by me just before the start of Modi’s speech at FICCI. It’s not clear who created the #Feku tag as everyone was using it, including Congress and BJP supporters.
Now, here’s the problem: Both #PappuCII and #ModiStormsFICCI are very clear hashtags and the reference to the person concerned is not ambiguous. In contrast, the #Feku tag is a very generic tag that can be used by anyone to target anyone but the media went around lying that the #Feku tag was created by Congress to target Modi when facts do not support such a contention. Take a look at this tweet from Pawan Durani at 3.00pm on April 8, which is just a while after the FICCI event:
Notice carefully, that all the TOP tweets at that point of time were using #Feku for Rahul Gandhi and not Modi. But yes, the Congress supporters were also using #Feku to target Modi. As a consequence of both sides using the same hashtag it became the top trend. There wasn’t any question of Congress drawing first blood or #Feku trumping #ModiStormsFICCI. If only Congress supporters had used #Feku there is hardly any doubt it would not have been the top trend. It is because the supporters of both Congress and BJP were using the tag that it became the top trend. In fact, in the later part of the day on April 8 it was the BJP supporters who had hijacked the tag and most of the tweets with #Feku were by them.
What is laughable is that TV news channels are now watching Twitter battles and that is surely a good sign for social media regardless of which political group one supports. As is the tradition with NDTV, the lies continued and in their Social Network programme on April 8 the anchor was desperately trying to suggest there was a battle between #Feku and #Pappu. That was hardly the case and as @Surnell points out, both tags were being used interchangeably as substitutes. Moreover, Pappu wasn’t used for just the CII event, RahulG is frequently referred to by that name. So once again NDTV was reporting on a battle without the slightest bit of fact-check. Well, I guess fact-check is not in their DNA when their reporting comes to Congress.
The single most tweeted and re-tweeted tweet With #ModiStormsFICCI on April 8 was one that I had posted in a sarcastic reference to RahulG’s “man on a horse” comment from CII. The CNN-IBN screen grab shows the tweet was RTd 458 times. By afternoon of April 9 the tweet was already RTd almost 600 times. So the battle between #Feku and #Pappu is a fake one that NDTV reported. To add to that Rahul Kanwal also spent an entire primetime session on the fake battle between #Feku and #ModiStormsFICCI. Kanwal was ecstatic that some Congress hashtag had beaten the other tag when that was hardly the case. A successful hashtag on Twitter usually has a direct reference to the target. #PappuCII had no ambiguity on who the beneficiary of the tag was. #ModiStormsFICCI had no ambiguity about the beneficiary. So for Rahul Kanwal to claim that #Feku had a clear target or beneficiary reflects his ignorance about Twitter and hashtags.
Neither NDTV nor Headlines Today could manage to poke any holes in Modi’s speeches. Some female media anchors and panellists were woefully picking on nonsense like women being called “Ma or behen”. Such frivolous crap is all they could come up with. In contrast, the audience at FICCI, at ThinkIndia and Kolkata were thrilled by the interaction, so were many other observers in the media. So when they couldn’t find any genuine criticism to hurl at Modi the news channels and newspapers like Indian Express turned to imaginary Congress victories on Twitter. More than Tweeple from either side it was the news channels who indulged in a lot more “Fekulogy” as I call it. But I derive immense satisfaction from the fact that the social media is now dictating the discourse to MSM. That is for everyone to celebrate, regardless of political persuasions. The MSM is already famous for “Fekulogy”, they just fell into a new trap of the art.