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Where @NarendraModi fails, @SushmaSwaraj succeeds

This is my first hand experience.

Around 10 PM last night (4th May 2015) I see this SOS tweet on my Twitter timeline from some Agratha Dinakaran (https://twitter.com/Agratha). She is in Berlin, has lost her passport and money, and has nowhere to turn to. The Indian Embassy in Berlin will open in the morning. She was told about this at the Embassy. The duty officer failed to inform her that the Embassy could also be contacted after the office hours and those numbers were there on its site.

I have somehow developed great faith in the Ministry of External Affairs and its twitter handle @MEAIndia as the earlier spokesperson of the Ministry Mr. Syed Akbaruddin was very alert and responsive to relevant twitter messages. One cannot say the same about Mr. Vikas Swaroop but he is new to the job and probably will take a little time to adjust and develop a hang of the social media.

After the departure of Akbaruddin I had realized that the Minister of External Affairs, GOI, Ms. Sushma Swaraj was making up for his absence and Vikas Swaroop’s inexperience with SM feedback.

So, as soon as I saw Agratha’s message I RTed it with my comment, tagging @SushmaSwaraj and @MEAIndia. I also gave some advice to @Agratha based on my knowledge of Berlin. There were many others who were trying to help her in the meanwhile. I added my bit by suggesting to her the Indian restaurant near Ritz Carlton at Potsdamer Platz. I had had dinner there this February during by regular Berlinale trip. I presumed she would be in the vicinity since Indian Embassy was hardly 15 minutes away from there.

And then it happened. First I get a message that Sushma Swaraj has favourited my tweet. It was not even half an hour since I had posted/Rted Agratha’s tweet.  And then what I witnessed was amazing. I found Sushma Swaraj tweeting to the stranded girl, asking for her phone number and advising her that in her tweets she should always send phone numbers so that she could be contacted.

There was no response to the tweet for some time. I felt bad, thought might be that the girl had not checked her twitter messages since she had got some help and her stay in the night was sorted out. So, I go to her timeline and ask her to check her TL as Sushma Swaraj is tweeting her and asking for her number. All this was happening around 10 or 10.30PM. 

Finally, I saw Agratha’s tweet acknowledging Sushma Swaraj’s tweet. The initial response of Agratha to the tweet was not very enthusiastic but as she realized it was not a joke, she provided the details, and enthusiastically tweeted about this amazing experience.

This direct experience has really changed my perception of Sushma Swaraj. I did not like it when she sucked up to Sonia as the Leader of the Opposition. She did not have to do that yet she did, probably following the ABVajpayee example of being on good terms with everyone. In the process the BJP could not pose a serious threat to the UPA regime. She also blocked those on SM who wrote negative things about her. That changed after she became a minister.

Now, when I look at the responsiveness of various Modi ministers to the Social Media posts, it’s almost NIL. The BJP Chief Ministers, MPs, & party leaders use SM to do routine public relations exercises. It’s one-way street. They have a lot to pontificate and propagate but have no ears or concern for the SM outrage and even SOS messages.   

And who is the worst performer in this respect - the one who was considered the harbinger of SM revolution in politics - Narendra Modi himself. He has two active twitter handles - @PMOIndia and @NarendraModi. He also has a site called MyGovIn. He actively promotes this site from all available platforms. You will also find a whole lot of phone numbers on PMO’s site.  Use all these available modes of communication and the greater possibility is you will not get any response from anywhere.

Recently, a few very serious incidents took place. One of them happened  in Shamli, Western Uttar Pradesh. Thousands of Islamists surrounded a Haridwar bound train, pelted stones at it, beat up passengers, burnt the local police station, and fired at the Fire Brigade tenders. In another incident, similar riots happened in Mullickpur Village in West Bengal where Hindu homes were vandalized and burnt and Hindus were killed by Muslim mobs. 

The SM activists kept tweeting this to https://twitter.com/AmitShahOffice , https://twitter.com/HMOIndia ,  https://twitter.com/PMOIndia , https://twitter.com/narendramodihttps://twitter.com/buzzindelhi , https://twitter.com/amishra77 and everyone else. There was no response.

You send messages, post ideas on MyGovIndia https://twitter.com/mygovindia, there will be no response. One AKHILESH MISHRA joined as the Director of this initiative and boasted that he would use all kinds of analytics and make the site more responsive. Nothing happened. You could send DMs to the man before he was appointed the director of MyGovIn; you cannot to that any more. He has become part of the elite gang and is thus beyond the reach of ordinary mortals. 

The situation is no better with the BJP CMs, MPs and party stalwarts. They are totally irresponsive.  I tweeted to Devendra Fadnavis (https://twitter.com/Dev_Fadnavis) that the emergency police helpline number does not work. What you get to hear on that number is a recorded message particularly after 10 PM. There was no response or action. I tagged my MP Kirit Somaiya (https://twitter.com/) hoping that he would take up the matter with the CM. I neither got a response nor saw any action taking place. The Mumbai police, particularly the traffic police, remain as corrupt and inept as ever.  

What does it show? Kirit Somaiya is busier that Sushma Swaraj. Wow. He is really working hard. What is the idiot doing? He is meeting police officers and humbly requesting them to take up high profile corruption cases. And he tweets about it too. Cannot he just tell his CM to order his officials to do the needful? Devendra Fadnavis can simply put a few remarks on the files submitted to him and pass them on to the ACB. That will provide ample time to Kirit Somaiya to listen to his electorate.  And I thank God he is not a minister.

The other day Sucheta Dalal mentioned that he was totally transformed after having become an MP. He is no more available to anyone.  Of course he is busier than the Minister of External Affairs and thus cannot respond to the SOS of his electorate.

Contrast this with the pre-election scenario. From Narendra Modi to Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh, all were super active on SM. (Strangely, Sushma Swaraj was not.) The SM outrage will make them change their decisions and strategies. They will send personalized messages to their active followers and ‘karykartas’. All that has completely changed. I believe Namo gets up early in the morning and looks at SM messages. We don’t know what he does with them. Must be relishing the positive stuff being said about him and feeling good and getting energized for the day.   

A few weeks back I wrote about how Axis Bank still insists on notarized copies of documents nixing an important citizen friendly initiative of the Prime Minister. The Axis bank helpline took note of that. Sucheta Dalal, the indefatigable financial market crusader and journalist retweeted that article making it nearly go viral. Some banking sector guys also tweeted to her about it. I had tagged the PMO, Narendra Modi, MOF, Arun Jaitly, and Jayant Sinha too in my tweets. Other twitter friends joined in as well in spreading the message.  Finally, Axis Bank help contacted me and the aggrieved customer. They confirmed that they were following a wrong policy and the necessary corrective measures had been taken.

I still feel that Axis Bank went into a hyperactive mode over the issue no thanks to the PMO, Narendra Modi, MOF, Arun Jaitly, and Jayant Sinha. It was more a Sucheta Dalal effect. I received no response from those who I had hoped would respond to it.

We are not paying our taxes to Sucheta Dalal. In fact we don’t even pay her for her highly useful seminars and Moneycontrol.com initiatives. She also wishes well for the new political dispensation and out of her deep concerns keeps highlighting the important issues that directly concern citizens. None pays heed to her now. Even an idiot like Kirit Somaiya, who has begun to believe that he knows everything about finances and financial markets, does not care to listen to her. He does not care for his electorate and their tweets, the ordinary mortals like me, anyway. 

So, Sushma Swaraj and her concern for Indian citizenry comes as a breath of fresh air to me. She is one big positive of this government.  

I’m not sure if I’m being robbed at 10 PM in the night on a Mumbai street or struck in a traffic jam, and if the Police helpline No. 100 will work or not or my SOS tweets to Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh, Devendra Fadnavis, Kirit Somaiya, Poonam Mahajan, and Gopal Shetty will draw a response or not. 

In this uncertain world I feel certain of one thing though.

If I ever get stranded beyond the shores of India I will not feel orphaned as long as Sushma Swaraj is in the Ministry of External Affairs. She will be like Mother or Sister India to me who I can turn for help since Brother India Narendra Modi rarely listens to the voices outside his own head.

I wish I could trust Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitly, Jayant Sinha, Manoharlal Khattar, Manohra Parrikar, Devendra Fadnavis, Vasundhara Raje,  Shivraj Singh Chauhan, and the rest as much as I trust Sushma Swaraj today.

Rajesh Kumar Singh