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Rahul Gandhi gets on Telegram to ‘engage directly’ but his YouTube videos don’t offer much hope

Rahul Gandhi's last social media experiment hasn't been a roaring success, and shows the party isn't able to make a mass connect.

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New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has been on a different social media campaign of sorts. In April, he began a series of video interactions with field experts, discussing the various impacts of coronavirus. Then last week, he surfaced on Telegram, a Russian instant messaging app that allows users to create channels followers can subscribe to.

The channel, that was created on 18 June, has not been verified and is yet to post any activity, but already has more than 9,000 subscribers.

The Congress said the channel was Gandhi’s bid to “engage directly with people”. However, if one were to estimate how well this could work by looking at the response to his video interactions, another attempt to be more directly accessible to the people, the numbers don’t seem very promising.

For instance, Gandhi’s most recent video interaction ⁠— with former US Ambassador Nicholas Burns on 12 June ⁠— garnered about 42,860 views and 6.1k likes on his official YouTube channel in over 15 days as of Saturday evening.

The reception to his other video interactions fare only marginally better.

The most well-received video interaction was Gandhi’s chat with Rajiv Bajaj, managing director, Bajaj Auto, which was streamed on 4 June. The interaction received 1,19,362 views and over 11,000 likes on Youtube. Prior to that, the Congress leader’s discussion with health experts Ashish Jha and Johan Giesecke got 1,01,261 views.

Also read: Don’t stop at Raghuram Rajan. Here’s a list for Rahul Gandhi’s interviews

What’s in a number?

These numbers were a significant improvement from Rahul Gandhi’s initial interactions, which included a talk with former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan (over 36,600 views) and Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee (over 90,600 views). These two videos, performed much better on the Congress party’s official YouTube channel though, garnering over 2.72 lakh views together. However, for a party that got around 12 crore votes in the Lok Sabha election, these numbers indicate that the videos may not be resonating with everyone in the party’s voter base.

On Gandhi’s Facebook page, the interaction with Burns garnered about 3.53 lakh views, the Bajaj interaction got over 5.28 lakh views, the talk with Jha and Giesecke was watched around 4.48 lakh times, the chat with Banerjee had 4.34 lakh views and the one with Rajan got 6.74 lakh views.

In its assessment, the Congress party says the videos are doing well, given that the YouTube views are being garnered “organically”.

“His (Rahul Gandhi’s) videos views are organic in nature. So, in weight and in substance, they outweigh the numbers artificial bot handles increase the views of PM Modi’s videos (sic),” said Jaiveer Shergil, party spokesperson, told ThePrint.

Also read: Covid-19 unlocked Rahul Gandhi’s new avatar — retired European social democrat

‘Can’t compare Gandhi’s dialogue to Modi’s monologue’

Making a comparison with Modi, Shergil went on to say the interactions could not be compared to the prime minister’s videos since the latter never holds “dialogues”.

“He never holds dialogues or interactions with experts, they are always monologues. So it’s not a fair comparison,” Shergil said.

If one were to compare, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech for the launch of the Garib Kalyan Yojana on 19 June, has thus far received 2,154,585 views. His video from Friday, a day ago, applauding the people of Uttar Pradesh for their Covid-19 efforts, received 69,415 views.

These numbers tell us that both leaders enjoy a different following. Rahul Gandhi’s official YouTube channel has over 3.10 lakh subscribers while PM Modi’s has around 67 lakh subscribers.

Also read: A Congress strategy and decoding Covid — behind Rahul Gandhi’s video interview series

Video can still be used to collect electoral capital

The Congress leader’s core team of close aides, who planned the video interactions, said the Covid-themed interactions were not designed to appeal to a widespread audience.

“This wasn’t built to be mass-y. This isn’t our approach or intention. We know that this is a new avatar, and some people might have an appetite for it, while others won’t,” one of the aides told ThePrint last week.

To begin with, unlike Modi’s speeches which are in Hindi, Gandhi’s discussions were in English, and were centred around more heady subjects such as the economy, global and India, and the science behind the coronavirus.

A party leader said that though the interactions lack a certain mass appeal, the Congress should try and use them to boost the party electorally.

“The nature of the videos is not accusatory and isn’t meant to garner electoral votes but merely to find solutions to the crisis … But I think we need to take the solutions coming out of these videos, and give them a more electorally viable wrapping and flavour, so that they aren’t just limited to an echo chamber,” the leader said on the condition of anonymity.

Also read: Rahul Gandhi is back. Now with two economists, a migrant aid pack and an ethical hacker


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  1. ***for a party that got around 12 crore votes in the Lok Sabha election**
    Leftist Media keep repeating this, 12 Crore Votes, out of 12 crore 7 Crore Votes are from Muslims & Christians, only 5 Crore Hindus voted, purely due to the candidates, personal clout, readers can draw their own conclusion about this 12 Crore Vote push.

  2. Khota Sikka Ek baar chal chukka hai. Kitne baar chalana chahoge ? The Fake coin has been in currency one time , How many times would like to circulate fake currency ? He won twice from eternally backward constituency of Amethi in U.P and have to migrate a Hindu minority constituency in a Hindu minority state of Kerala to enter in lower house of the Parliament of India. . Since March 2020, when Corona virus started and went on killing spree in India and an enemy country China — a Contributor to Rajiv Gandhi Foundation – Sonia -Family owned and controlled private Trust – ,, started threatening territorial integrity and security of the nation, he started a disinformation campaign against the PM of India raising everyday foolish type of questions . Every body knows situation on borders can changes every hour due to action of enemy and reaction by our forces. He can not comprehend this much simple thing. He wants TV footage of battles like a 20-20 cricket match.
    He may be living in grandeur of past when his family is alleged to have looted India with impunity . But that era has ended in 2014 itself. Today s India needs a new political dispension to match BJP , not old discredited Congress party. Otherwise BJP will be ruling for next 40-50 years. Have no doubt about it.

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