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BJP is leaving Twitter behind, wants to stay in touch via NaMo app

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BJP wants Namo app to be its main medium of communication; PMO is keeping a hawk eye on the feedback it receives on BJP leaders area-wise.

New Delhi: Dear Twitter, the BJP is moving on. Long the mainstay of the party as well as the NDA government’s outreach efforts, the micro-blogging website is slowly being replaced by the Prime Minister’s NaMo app as its prime communication portal.

Since its launch in June 2015, the app has been pitched as a platform for public engagement, and facilitates interactions between the common man and NDA office-holders, besides BJP legislators and workers. It also allows users to review the performance of ministers, MPs, MLAs, with separate groups for internal discussions.

However, as most leaders logged into Twitter for real-time interactions, the app took a backseat, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi even joking at a parliamentary party meeting in December that only five or six MPs ever replied to his ‘good morning’ message on the platform.

Now the party has issued clear instructions to leaders: Even if you attend a morcha, drop an update on the app.

“Wherever we went to meet chief ministers and deputy chief ministers of BJP-ruled states, we were asked to use the NaMo app extensively. We were surprised,” said a member of a national morcha.

Dedicated groups, for example, have been created for the BJP’s Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members, whose administrators include Modi himself. In many parliamentary meetings, the PM has asked all MPs to start using the NaMo app extensively and start responding to his messages.

“One of the reasons is that the Modi government has completed its four years. With every MP and MLA given the task to reach out to people with the government’s achievements, the PM needs to see what everyone is doing and who is not performing the tasks assigned. Everyone is supposed to post videos and photos,” a senior leader said.

Sources said the PM wants feedback from people on the most popular leaders in their areas, as well as the performance of legislators. ‘This would be crucial in ticket distribution,’ added a senior party leader.

Abhishek Matoria, 35, a BJP MLA who represents Rajasthan’s Nohar constituency, said NaMo was “a cool app to connect with people and colleagues”.

“There are a few who faced difficulty in surfing and accessing the app, but they took the help of the IT team, both in the state and at the Centre. Many have bought new phones…,” added the MLA, “The good thing is, we can see what we are doing right or wrong and how our colleagues are performing.”

“Work on internet connectivity in villages is also being monitored,” said Matoria, who won his maiden election at 26.

A crash course in ‘NaMo’

The BJP has made it evident that arguments of a tech handicap would not get leaders out of the directive, with ‘orientation programmes’ organised every second and last Tuesday at the party headquarters for a crash course on the app.

A senior party leader said, as a result, there had been a surge of activity on the app of late. Ministers are increasingly posting their departments’ achievements on the app for their colleagues and party leaders to see.

“This is an election year and everybody should know the government’s achievements. And by being able to get all the data on one portal, the leaders would be able to share it with their followers as well,” added the source.

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