LUCKNOW: Firebrand but reticent and hardly media savvy. That was Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati for the world outside her closely guarded private confines.
However, as the Lok Sabha poll cauldron heats up, the Dalit leader is undergoing a never-before metamorphosis – reaching out to media in a ‘more than ever friendly demeanour’ and now hitting the social media platforms by opening a twitter account-- @sushrimayawati—in a bid to be more interactive.
Two weeks after a Twitter handle in the name of the BSP chief appeared, it has now been officially established that it belongs to the former UP CM. “This is to inform you that Bahujan Samaj Party national president, former UP Chief Minister and ex-MP, Ms Mayawati ji has for the first time decided to join twitter for speedy interaction with media and masses besides expressing her views on various issues of national and political importance through twitter,” a statement issued by the BSP on Wednesday read.
Actually, it (@sushrimayawati) was created in October last week but has become active now. She is already a hit and has been inundated by thousands of followers. In fact, after the official announcement by the BSP and till filing of this report, Mayawati had reached a count of 27.5 K followers while she is following none but Twitter Support.
On the contrary, while UP CM Yogi Adityanath has a following of 3.3 million @myogiadityanath, SP Chief and former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav is way ahead with 8.9 million followers @yadavakhilesh.
Tweeting for the first time on January 22, Mayawati wrote, “Hello brothers and sisters. With due respect let me introduce myself to the Twitter family. This is my opening and inauguration. @sushrimayawati is my official twitter handle for all my future interactions, comments and updates. With warm regards. Thank you."
Seven out of the first 11 tweets are press releases from her party. "Connect me directly, get party views and updates. With regards (sic)," she tweeted on January 23. However, taking a lead in welcoming her on twitter, RJD leader Tejaswi Yadav wrote: “Finally glad to see you here. Happy that you acknowledged and respected my request of joining twitter during our meeting in Lucknow on 13th January. Warm Regards,” while responding to her first tweet.
For a leader who has summarily used the term ‘Manuwadi Media’ to keep away unless political exigency forced her to communicate, and who is known to be holding one-way press conferences, this is a remarkable change. While talking to journalists, she has stressed umpteen times that 'nobody writes her speeches and she drafts them on her own'.
However, a number of frontal Dalit organisations have been on social media in a big way for quite some time now. Dalit thinker and Prof Vivek Kumar of JNU says that it was her mistrust for the mainstream media that kept her away. Political analyst JP Shukla, who has seen Mayawati’s rise in the past 30 years, on the other hand, say that by keeping media at bay, she was just following the dictum of her mentor Kanshi Ram who had cautioned the party cadre against money, mafia and media.