The Russians have Kremlinology: analysts ponder over every twitch in the seat of power in Moscow and attempt to read meaning into it. India has a poor cousin of the same endeavour: decoding Subramanian Swamy tweets.
The Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Parliament from the Rajya Sabha, to which he was nominated in April, is a frequent user of Twitter. But Swamy's tweets are not a list of his own achievements and greetings to other countries in foreign languages, like Prime Minister Narendra Modi's. Neither does he take to the social network to rant about delayed flights, like Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Venkaiah Naidu.
Instead, Swamy has used the social network to build up an army of more than 2.8 million followers, who can be swung into action whenever the MP decides who his latest target is. When they're not out attacking Swamy's villain-du-jour, though, these Patriotic Tweeple – PTs, as Swamy calls them – spend most of their time trying to decipher the politician's tweets.
That's because Swamy's Twitter account can be a lot like Game of Thrones. It's full of characters and nicknames and plotlines that you forgot a long time ago and have a hard time keeping track of.
A hilariously confused tweet from one of those Patriotic Tweeps in January was the perfect illustration of this: @vish_was_is had to ask if Swamy's mention of Opus Dei possibly being behind the Hyderabad "fraud" agitation was a reference to the real Opus Dei, or some Indian politician whom Swamy had decided to give that nickname.
On Wednesday, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the nation does not benefit from publicity stunts – which many believed was a reference to Swamy's twitter campaigns – the Rajya Sabha MP was back on the social network confusing his followers.
Decoding such tweets is a hazardous game, but that's what keeps Swamy's army on its toes. The conventional wisdom followed that Arnab G was Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of TimesNow, on whose show Modi is said to have cautioned Swamy, without naming him. That's the easy reference.
What about Muruga Muruga? One bright follower thought that because the reference is divine (Murugan is one of the names of Kartikeya, Shiva's son), that it must be Modi.
He also concluded that the "dog" must be Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, because the phrase use was unelectable. Jaitley famously lost an election despite the Modi wave in 2014, and his antipathy towards Swamy has never been a secret.
Swamy had to wade into his own mentions just to counter, or at least nuance some of this.
That decodes Swamy's tweet only halfway: He's talking about Goswami foaming at the mouth and talking about him a whole lot on his show, although the identity of the person referred to as a "dog" remains open to interpretation.
It's also a worthwhile point at which to ask: Why pay attention to Swamy's tweets at all? The man is a loose cannon who thrives on publicity. But he was also nominated to the Rajya Sabha just two months ago and, moreover, his successful campaign against Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan and subsequent veiled reprimand by Modi brings up he question: Can Swamy be silenced?
At least as far as his Twitter account goes, the answer is no. After taking a day to be slightly more philosophical, Swamy returned to his vitriol on Wednesday, making references to unelectable dogs, to Rajan's failures as an economist and his other forthcoming targets.
As a caveat, he expressed his support of the prime minister clearly.
But then he went on to agree with people who believe Modi's publicity remark was not aimed at him, followed by some more Rajan criticism.
The recent tweets have lacked something of the panache that Swamy has displayed earlier, stuffing his tweets with references to all sorts of arcane nicknames that the ordinary follower would find it impossible to understand.
The Swamy dictionary
A few years ago, @VikramSeeking, a Patriotic Tweeter, took on the important task of documenting some of this in a wonderful Swamy glossary – not to be confused with our Right-Wing glossary.
A short section of this follows:
VK = VishKanya
For Sonia Gandhi . Vish means poison, Kanya means girl. Read about Vishkanyas
TDK = TaDaKka
For Sonia Gandhi . Read about Tataka .
Buddhu = Rahul Gandhi
Buddhu in hindi means "dumb" or "fool". Not to be confused with "buddha".
Bambino = Rahul Gandhi
Bambino means "male child" in Italian.
Robber/Robber Damad = Robert Vadra
He’s the husband of Priyanka Gandhi and son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi. Damad, in Hindi, means son-in-law.
Md Bin Tughlaq/MBT = Arvind Kejriwal
The entire list is well worth your time. It hasn't been updated for a while, although we're sure newer followers would appreciate being told Muruga is a reference to Subramanian Swamy himself, not Modi, before the prime minister has to once again go on TV to reprimand someone whom he doesn't name.