On Sunday, leading lights of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party had an identity transformation on Twitter.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, Union ministers Piyush Goyal, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and Rajnath Singh were among those who added the prefix “chowkidar”, meaning watchman, to their handles.
Their new titles came a day after the BJP lauched a campaign it called “Main Bhi Chowkidar” in an effort to reinforce burnish its image as an anti-corruption party. Modi has repeatedly referred to himself as India’s chowkidar, a man who will ensure that nothing goes wrong under his watch. This declaration has prompted Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to counter with the taunt “chowkidar chor hai” or “the watchman is the thief”, particularly while alleging corruption in the Rafale fighter jet deal.
While some Opposition leaders derided the BJP’s campaign as essentially dishonest, Twitter, as it is wont to do, found it a source of mirth.
One Twitter user pointed out that the prime minister had vowed to change his name if he failed to fulfil his promise of ushering in Achhe Din, or better days. Was this his way of keeping that promise?
Yet another user pointed out the irony in #MeToo accused Union minister MJ Akbar vowing to make India “strong and secure”.
Of course, political cartoonists could not pass the opportunity without having a few laughs (while making pointed political statement).
In the light of the developments of the weekend, one Twitter user revisited an old advertisement where a security guard attempts to rob the same bank where he works.
However, things took a gloomy turn when Fatima Nafis, Najeeb Ahmed’s mother, responded to the prime minister by asking the whereabouts of her son.
Najeeb Ahmed, a student of the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, went missing in October 2016 after an alleged tiff with students affiliated to the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. The police has been unable to trace him till date.
The launch of the campaign on March 17 had also evoked some humorous responses when Prime Minister Modi’s handle began sending out automated responses to accounts tweeting with the hashtag #MainBhiChowkidar. In an attempt to boost the campaign, Modi’s official handle had replied to a parody account of fugitive businessman Nirav Modi, who is currently wanted in India for a fraud of over Rs 13,000 crore. The tweet was later deleted.