Raman Singh, Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan have remained active on social media, to varying degrees, perhaps based on poll performance.
New Delhi: As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost its grip on the Hindi heartland with election defeats in the three big states of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, its incumbent chief ministers who were regional stalwarts suffered the biggest setback.
The gloomy 11 December verdict, however, didn’t mean that the former chief ministers — Raman Singh, Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan — retreated into a shell or disappeared from the crucial engagement platform of social media.
All three have remained active on social media but to varying degrees and in their own styles, with engagements seemingly determined by their performances in these elections.
Their social media presence this week is also a reflection, perhaps, of how they see their future in politics after these losses and how they intend to mould themselves for the future. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been a major votary of the importance of social media and has consistently urged other leaders of the party to remain active on the platform.
Raman Singh — The reticent
Nothing in Tuesday’s verdict would have come as a shock to the BJP as much as its rout in Chhattisgarh. The party managed to win only an embarrassing 15 of the state’s 90 assembly seats.
Singh, or ‘chawal wale baba’ as he is known due to his grain subsidy schemes, may have been facing a tough contest but certainly didn’t expect a result as extreme as this.
We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.
Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.
Of the three, Singh has been the most reticent on social media.
On Wednesday morning, a day after the stinging loss, Singh put out a Tweet wishing poet Maithili Sharan Gupt on his death anniversary.
नर हो, न निराश करो मन को,
कुछ काम करो, कुछ काम करो
जग में रह कर कुछ नाम करो,
ऐसी कालजयी कविता के रचियता खड़ी बोली के अविस्मरणीय कवि पद्मभूषण श्री मैथिलीशरण गुप्त जी को उनकी पुण्यतिथि पर शत शत नमन। आपकी कवितायें सदैव हमारा मार्गदर्शन करती रहेंगी। pic.twitter.com/Rt8IT60dO7
— Dr Raman Singh (@drramansingh) December 12, 2018
However, Gupt’s poem he chose as a tribute had its own tale to tell. The poem — Nar ho na nirash karo man ko, Kuch kaam karo, kuch kaam karo, Jag mein reh kar kuch naam karo — is a motivational composition, which tells one to not lose heart and to continue working and making a name for oneself in the world. The same post was published on his official Facebook page as well.
He used the next day to wish his colleagues in the BJP — Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, Union minister Harsh Vardhan and party spokesperson Sambit Swaraj — on their birthdays.
On Thursday, the former Chhattisgarh CM recalled the 2001 Parliament attack and paid his tributes to the soldiers who “laid their lives to protect the Parliament” in an emotional tweet. His Facebook account, however, has not seen any activity since the tribute to Gupt.
On Friday, Singh tweeted about the Rafale verdict and said it “put an end to all the fake propaganda” of the Congress.
Vasundhara Raje — The in-between
Raje, perceived to be widely unpopular in her state, was expected to face the toughest battle of all three incumbent CMs.
The BJP, however, managed to retain a presence in Rajasthan, winning 73 of the 200 seats against the 99 won by the Congress. The former CM has had a tense equation with the central leadership of the BJP, which had its manifestations in several political decisions linked to the party in the state.
Raje’s social media engagement has been more active than Singh’s, but far less than that of Chouhan.
As the results became clear Tuesday, Raje took to Twitter to congratulate the Congress but added she was “very proud” of her government’s work.
While I congratulate INC, I am very proud of the work my Govt. has done in the last 5 yrs. Hope the incoming Govt. will continue our good work and consolidate the multiple interventions we made to benefit the people of #Rajasthan – a state I will be personally committed to.
— Vasundhara Raje (@VasundharaBJP) December 11, 2018
Her next tweet was in Hindi and came within a few minutes, congratulating all the winning candidates, and yet another tweet in which she thanked Modi, party president Amit Shah and BJP workers.
In another Hindi tweet, Raje thanked the people of Rajasthan. It was accompanied by a picture of a smiling Raje hugging children. On Facebook, Raje published a long post — with messages both in English and Hindi — that was a combination of her tweets.
The next day, Raje used her Twitter handle to pay tributes to Gupt, a post she put out on her Facebook page as well. On Thursday, much like Singh, she wished her party colleagues Parrikar and Vardhan on their birthdays and also paid tributes to the soldiers who lost their lives during the Parliament attack.
On Friday, Raje posted a tweet on the National Energy Conservation Day, recounting her government’s achievements on that front along with a poster of Modi and her. On Facebook, she put out a motivational ‘quote of the day’ by Swami Vivekananda.
She also retweeted Shah’s tweets on the Rafale verdict.
Shivraj Chouhan — The most prolific
Madhya Pradesh was BJP’s best performance among the three states. Despite a 15-year anti-incumbency sentiment and several adverse factors, the party managed to win 109 of the 230 seats, limiting the Congress to 114, two short of the majority mark. This has widely been credited to Chouhan, who continues to remain a popular and liked leader in the state, with a goodwill that transcends social groups.
The social media accounts of ‘Mamaji’, as he is fondly called in the state, reflected this very trademark style.
Since his Tuesday defeat, Chouhan has put out nearly 50 tweets from his personal handle and over 18 Facebook posts, far more than the other losing BJP CMs, which also shows his reaffirmation of being a strong, people’s leader, despite the loss.
On Wednesday, Chouhan thanked the people of Madhya Pradesh in multiple tweets in Hindi, and also Modi and Shah. However, what stood out in Chouhan’s timeline was his emphasis on engaging with journalists, politicians and others who tweeted about his performance and his leadership by replying to each individually.
#MadhyaPradeshElections2018 में आपने @BJP4MP को सबसे अधिक वोट दिया, आप सभी का ह्रदय से आभार व्यक्त करता हूं। समाज के हर वर्ग के साथ मध्यप्रदेश के सर्वांगीण विकास हेतु अपना आशीर्वाद हमारे प्रत्याशियों को देने के लिए राज्य के समस्त नागरिकों का धन्यवाद।
— ShivrajSingh Chouhan (@ChouhanShivraj) December 12, 2018
Chouhan also held a press conference Wednesday followed by a series of tweets from the official handle of the former Madhya Pradesh CM. He also tweeted about meeting party workers as well as the National Energy Conservation Day.
On Friday, as the Supreme Court verdict on Rafale came out, Chouhan was quick to post a tweet slamming the Congress. He also congratulated senior Congress leader Kamal Nath for being elected the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh.
On Facebook, Chouhan published a range of posts — almost a repeat of his tweets — all embellished with a string of pictures.
After his spirited fight in the polls, Chouhan is unlikely to be written off as a powerful political force and the astute politician perhaps knows that just too well.
News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it
You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.
You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.
We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.
At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.
This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.
If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.