New Delhi, May 7: Rahul Gandhi has joined Twitter, finally.
The Congress vice-president, often parodied on cyberspace by critics and political rivals, today took up the social media gauntlet, accepting a challenge in a sphere dominated so far by supporters of the BJP, particularly the Prime Minister.
Although Rahul will not be tweeting himself, as the account will be managed by his office, sources said the Twitter handle @OfficeOfRG would make his presence felt in the instant world of communications.
A hint had come by evening. By 7pm, the number of followers had crossed 40,000.
Rahul's decision is part of a larger Congress plan to invest heavily in social media and challenge the BJP's dominance. A separate social media department is also on the cards with dedicated staff to manage Twitter, Facebook and other web-based communication tools.
Sources said it was a conscious decision to let Rahul's office handle the account: to avoid personal controversies.
The Congress had significantly increased its social media presence since last year's crushing defeat in the parliamentary elections, realising its impact, especially on the youth. Several party leaders, including veterans Shakeel Ahmed, Manish Tewari, Anil Shastri and younger ones like Rajeev Satav, Amrinder Raja Brar, Priyanka Chaturvedi, had taken to cyberspace to counter the rampaging force of "Modi- bhakts" (Modi supporters).
But the party had largely stayed off, mainly because of an aversion to sharing a space that sources described as having a distinctly saffron shade.
Today's formal acknowledgement of Rahul's account means the party had decided to take on all those who had opened dozens of fake accounts lampooning him or criticising party leaders for defending "Pappu", a proper name used in a derogatory sense.
The first tweet, with the announcement that this was the official account of the office of Rahul Gandhi, MP, put Netizens on alert.
"Watch this space for information and updates on Rahul Gandhi's official programmes and upcoming events," it said.
The second tweet said: "On May 12, Rahul Gandhi will begin a 15-km padyatra in Telangana's Adilabad district, covering five villages, starting from Wadial village."
The third and the last tweet referred to his intervention in the Lok Sabha to raise the issue of a mega food park in his constituency, Amethi.
Rahul got over 20,000 followers in a jiffy. By night, the number had crossed 50,000.