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‘More personal connect’: Twitter handle shares snippets of Modi’s past, from BJP karyakarta to PM

Created last September, @modiarchives, said to be handled by volunteers managing PM's social media outreach, has been sharing rare videos & photographs. It has about 49,000 followers.

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New Delhi: Last week when the Bharatiya Janata Party’s National Executive Meet was underway in Delhi, a Twitter handle, @modiarchive, shared a throwback photo from what it claimed to be from the party’s same convention that took place way back in Bhopal in 1996.

Soon after the photo was shared, social media was abuzz with users trying to identify those in the photo. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi can be seen standing in the balcony, among other younger leaders of the time — including Pramod Mahajan — the then senior leadership, including former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani and Murali Manohar Joshi, can be seen sitting in the middle row.

In the past few months, the Twitter handle shared many such posts, purportedly on PM Modi’s public and personal life, which has caught the attention of social media users.

The handle calls itself a “Modi Archive narrates the life journey of PM Narendra Modi through archival pictures, videos, audio recordings, letters, newspaper clips & such other material.” It has about 49,000 followers and was created in September 2022.

Since then, the handle has been sharing what it claims to be rare videos and content related to PM Modi’s and has also been referred to by the Prime Minister himself on Twitter.

Some of the posts, purportedly diary entries by Modi, claim to give into his thoughts, initiatives and outreach efforts, when he was a young party worker. Old speeches made by the PM also form part of the posts.

A post shared in October, claimed to be of the PM’s 2001 Diwali, shared with the victims of the Gujarat earthquake in Kutch. In the posts, the PM is seen lighting diyas (earthern lamps), participating in Ramdhun bhajan (prayer) and visiting a Dalit mother and son for a ‘Rotla-Chhas’ lunch, a simple Gujarati meal. The purpose of the post is to show how the Prime Minister has always connected with the people on ground.

Another post speaks of Modi’s participation in BJP’s 1991-92 Ekta Yatra. During the last year’s Himachal Pradesh elections, the Twitter handle shared an old clip, purportedly from 2001, where Modi can be heard talking about his vision for the hilly states. It was retweeted by the Prime Minister, with the comment that the resolve is still the same.

On September 29, the anniversary of India’s 2016 surgical strikes on terrorist camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, the handle shared what it claimed was a speech made by Modi in 1998, the day the country conducted five nuclear tests in Pokhran.

In the speech made in Gujarati, Modi can be heard saying, “There is a coordinated effort to scare India. Is there no responsibility to worry about the future of the 90 crore people of India? The whole politics of Pakistan is centered around opposing India.”

BJP sources told ThePrint that the Twitter handle is managed by a team of volunteers’ which manages the NAMO app, under the supervision of Hiren Joshi, who looks after the Prime Minister’s social media outreach. The NaMo app is the official app of PM Modi, which brings the latest information, updates related to the Prime Minister.

The team collects old photos and recordings of speeches, verifies them and then publishes them on the handle.

One of the team members told ThePrint that the basic idea behind the handle is to familiarise people with the Prime Minister’s early days, using old photos and speeches.

Also Read: ‘Propaganda piece’ — what 300 eminent citizens wrote in letter slamming BBC for Modi docuseries

‘Never seen before’ snippets

One of the posts that caught the attention of social media users was a speech in Gujarati,  purportedly made by Modi at the Sangha Shiksha Varg in Pune in 1984. In the speech titled ‘Vartaman Bharat Ni Samasya’, he can be heard lauding the contribution of Indian scientists of the 20th century.

According to team members managing the Twitter handle, they source material for the posts from state offices, party records and sometimes even chance upon individual collections. For example, an old photo of a younger Narendra Modi with Murali Manohar Joshi in Ayodhya went viral in October. The image was given to the team by a local photographer in Ayodhya who had captured the moment, one of the members said.

The party keeps records of photographs, speeches in every state unit which are sourced and then verified by the team, said members. Some state units also organise exhibition of photographs and old party-related material, from where these materials are sourced. As a pracharak, every RSS worker has to maintain a ‘Karyalaya diary’ and make entries regularly. Some of the diary entries shared are from these, maintained by Modi as an RSS pracharak.

“People mostly know the Prime Minister Modi’s work and life from the time he became Chief Minister (of Gujarat) in 2001 and later Prime Minister (in 2014), but he was active as party functionary since early days,” said the team member referred to above.

“Most of his early work is not well documented, mostly scattered and not published. This handle not only makes people aware of his early days but it creates a database for documentation also. Millions of followers who love the Prime Minister wait for such past memories to connect with his present journey.”

A second team member said, “When the concept was launched in September, it attracted good traction. The basic idea is to engage people through soft power of photo, speeches to connect with people who love the Prime Minister.”

The snippets are shared contextually. For example, on the occasion of Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas earlier this month, the posts indicated how Modi’s relationship with the diaspora is decades old, as he traveled as a young BJP karyakarta across the world establishing personal relationships with Indians living in different countries. 

“Modi built ties across continents during the 1990s during his travels representing the BJP. He said — I was lucky to visit more than 40 countries and because of that I got very good exposure. I understood how the world is moving, what type of things are developing and where my country stood,” a post quoted the Prime Minister as saying.

A diary entry, shared by the handle, shows a quote by Mahatma Gandhi, written by Modi, in an effort to establish how the PM has always been influenced by the great leader.

“The only real, dignified, human doctrine is the greatest good for all,” reads the Gandhi quote.

“A voracious reader since his early years, Modi’s intensive reading significantly shaped his personality. In his diary, Modi often compiled quotes from great authors, thinkers and leaders,” read one of the tweets.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

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