The Telegraph
Sunday , September 15 , 2013
 

Social media eludes socialist Nitish
- Networking sites lose priority for chief minister in age of smart connects

Patna, Sept. 14: Mass, not a niche audience.

Being an engineer, chief minister Nitish Kumar might not ask “IT-YT kya hai?” like his predecessor Lalu Prasad but he took the socialist line so far as connecting to his supporters is concerned.

Chief ministers — from Narendra Modi in the west to Mamata Banerjee in the east — these days have strong presence on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter but Nitish is different. He is apparently shy of using the social media — the fast-emerging tool for politicians, social activists and writers.

Nitish, in fact, went to the extent of describing it as “cheche-cheche” — chirping of birds, in referring to Twitter, which uses a bird as its symbol — when his net-savvy former deputy Sushil Kumar Modi tweeted something unpalatable to him on September 2. “By doing cheche-cheche, some people are trying to usurp the birds’ domain and pose a threat to environmental purity. Human beings should desist from usurping the birds’ languages,” he had mocked Modi on the sidelines of his weekly janata durbar.

It will be too harsh on Nitish to draw a parallel between him and Lalu on the score of IT as the former takes pride in pulling the state out of the “Remington typewriter age” and putting it on the fast track of e-governance.

The Centre in 2009 awarded Bihar for advancement in e-governance. Nitish has linked almost all the government departments on the government portal.

Through Vasudha programme, the government has also connected the local bodies and panchayats with the Internet.

Nitish has made it mandatory for his ministers, legislators and officials to declare their assets on a public domain for transparency — something that might have happened because of his blogging on various issues. On October 20, 2011, he updated his blog — www.nitishspeaks.blogspot.in — on corruption, “Bhrastachar ke khilaf jung zaari rehgi (The war will go on against corruption)”. People close to him did not have an answer why Nitish changed his blogging strategy to share his thoughts with the younger support base.

For a socialist like Nitish, making inroads in Bihar, which has very low Internet penetration, is easier done in public rallies than online. At least this strain is running common in several other socialist leaders — Lalu Prasad, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Sharad Yadav — who have hardly any social media presence. “We are socialists. We thrive on the modern and revolutionary ideas aimed at removing disparity and creating equitable society. But temperamentally, we are not game with Tweeting and Facebooking,” said JD(U) MP Lallan Singh, a close aide of Nitish.

Nitish is not media shy either. He prefers mass media to the social media tools to express himself. Newspaper offices and TV news channels are flooded with e-mails on what he says or what he decides. He interacts with media representatives on almost every Monday and responds to the reporters’ queries with patience. But social networking seems not just his cup of tea unlike Modis — Narenda and Sushil. “There is a new constituency coming up in the virtual world. We will score over Nitish in real as well as the virtual worlds,” Sushil Kumar Modi told The Telegraph in a lighter vein.


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