Last week, Member of Parliament Anurag Thakur, who is also president of one of the party's youth wings, said that social media did not represent the "sense of the nation". Thakur was attempting to explain why India has been more willing to engage with Pakistan of late, especially over cricket. The result? #ShameOnAnuragThakur trending on Twitter, with posts like these:
— निर्भय सिंह⚡⚡ (@nirbhaisingh07) December 4, 2015
Then on Monday evening, BJP MP Chandan Mitra, who is also editor and managing director of the Pioneer, went on a news panel discussion and openly mocked the famed internet army.
When NDTV's Barkha Dutt asked whether social media and political rhetoric influences the country's policies, Mitra categorically denied any influence at all.
"I don't think any government can actually frame foreign policy or any other policy on the basis of Twitter, which is hyperbolic at times and no BJP does not. BJP policy is not decided by the twitterati," Mitra said. "No. I absolutely and categorically state that twitterati does not influence policy. Yes it's a useful sounding board as to how some people with nothing very much better to do express their opinions on various subjects."
Clearly some in the BJP (fringe elements?) are starting to get unhappy about the digital army's ability to make headlines and unwillingness to engage with nuance. Modi and the party courted the thousands of online volunteers in the run-up to last year's elections, leaning on them to help create a decisive narrative. But in doing so, the BJP was also cultivating a loud vocal constituency that prefers the loose-cannon antics of Subramanian Swamy over the more careful policy maneuvering that Modi is currently attempting over Pakistan.
This is a beast of their own making and it doesn't like to be insulted, especially not if that insulting ends up happening on NDTV.
— SecularScientist (@SwarupPhD) December 7, 2015
One of mine friend was incharge of Chandan Mitra LS campaign from Hoogly,WB After elections Mr Mitra didn't even met him once USE & THROW
— Rishi Bagree (@rishibagree) December 8, 2015
Just went through Chandan Mitra's TL. Only one tweet of his got 50+ RTs despite 80K+ followers. No wonder he hates twitter and tweeps!
— Ajayendar Al-Sanghi (@ajayendar) December 7, 2015
Shame on you chandan mitra, we are not lyk u which are in active politcs & hold positions. We are selfless workrs. https://t.co/OoHqcv8NiA
— एंडी माणस® (@NitishGaur_) December 7, 2015
Chandan Mitra did not even raise objection on Parvez Musharraf's statement about Kashmir and Terrorists.
— अंकित जैन (@indiantweeter) December 7, 2015
If Chandan Mitra is not real voice of the party, who is? May I please hear that voice? https://t.co/mP0rHGxYo7
— Amarjeet (@AmarjeetK_) December 8, 2015
Requested umpteen number of times to not send Chandan Mitra on TV debates but it fell on deaf ears https://t.co/eY3fuPrvWC
— Dhaval Patel (@dhaval241086) December 7, 2015
Of course, I didn't vote for the BJP; represented by dolts lk Chandan Mitra, my views on him have bn consistent. pic.twitter.com/YK5Z33TEBU
— saurabh srivastava (@SKS_Mumbai) December 8, 2015
You may not like Sushmaji going to Pakistan or Ajit Doval talking to them; but venting on Twitter won't change anything.
— Kushan Mitra (@kushanmitra) December 7, 2015
@kushanmitra and believe me, BJP can say goodbye to 2019 already if party line is to think that online support base are assholes.
— Rahul Roushan (@rahulroushan) December 7, 2015
So are Bhakts angry with Chandan Mitra for calling them stupid or for calling them stupid "on NDTV" ?
— Vivek (@bipashafever) December 7, 2015