Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday dropped the prefix “chowkidar”, or watchman, from his Twitter profile. Final results have not yet been declared, but the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance looks set for a landslide victory.
Modi said that though the word chowkidar will no longer be a part of his Twitter handle, it will remain “an integral part” of him. “Thank you India,” he wrote. “The faith placed in our alliance is humbling and gives us strength to work even harder to fulfil people’s aspirations.”
He added: “I salute every BJP Karyakarta for their determination, perseverance [and] hard work. They went home to home, elaborating on our development agenda.” The people of India have now become chowkidars and “rendered great service to the nation”, he added.
During the campaign for the 2014 elections, Modi had urged voters to make him India’s watchman so that he could guard their interests. Five years later, when Congress President Rahul Gandhi went on the campaign trail, he used Modi’s statement to taunt him, especially in the context of the deal to buy Rafale jets from France. Gandhi alleged that there was corruption involved in the transaction, and that Modi was involved. “Chowkidar chor hai”, the watchman is a thief, became one of Gandhi’s rallying cries.
Instead of backing down, Modi decided to turn the tables on Gandhi by incorporating the prefix chowkidar into his Twitter handles. Most top Bharatiya Janata Party leaders followed suit, as did tens of thousands of their supporters.
But on Thursday, Modi decided it had outlived its utility as a rhetorical flourish. “Chowkidar has become a powerful symbol to safeguard India from the evils of casteism, communalism, corruption and cronyism,” he said. “Now, the time has come to take the Chowkidar Spirit to the next level. Keep this spirit alive at every moment and continue working for India’s progress.”