It is interesting to note that political parties react violently to innocuous comments made on Twitter. From Karthi Chidambaram’s issue to the current Shivsena protest on Shobha De, it is clear that political parties show extreme sensitivity to Twitter and Facebook comments.
From the apparent look of things it therefore appears that the social media is having a profound impact on Indian politics.
A doubt however remains if the people who protested in the streets either in the case of Shobha De post or in case of the Palghar incident had actually experienced the twitter impact themselves. Most of them might not be netizens at all but were reacting as if their sentiments have been seriously hurt. If Net is not their cup of tea, and only some page 3 followers or NRIs are the followers of Twitter/Facebook, it is difficult to understand why these proterstors took the trouble of staging demonstrations.
These incidents need a deeper analysis on how the social media is affecting the public behaviour.
A question to be asked is if these political parties are concerned with their vote banks, do they think that their voters are in a majority on the twitter/facebook space and therefore would be influenced by such comments? With the penetration of internet as it is, it is impossible to think that these twitter messages really posed an electoral threat to them.
Despite this truth, why did these parties took up demonstrations in the physical space and gave publicity through press and TV that there was one set of people who proposed Mumbai to be made into a union territory? Was it not a self goal scored by them?
While AIFON may feel happy that Internet is actually stirring up the political parties, one cannot but feel that the political parties have highly exaggerated the impact of twitter comments of the type Shobha De made, on the political space on the ground. Perhaps somebody within the party who considers himself to be a “Cyber Media Expert” must have mislead the party into believing that the damage caused by the twitter deserved the kind of demonstrations that followed.
If this is true, then we can see an interesting twitter war in the coming days between Congress and BJP.