Shashi Tharoor to lead Congress 'fightback' on social media with Shah Rukh Khan

Shashi Tharoor
Even as the Congress plans to set up a 35-member team to counter the so-called propaganda against it in the social media, the party leadership is said to be preparing to rope in twitterati like Shashi Tharoor, eminent personalities like Shah Rukh Khan and Shabana Azmi, other techno savvy leaders, and eminent personalities to spread its message.

The All India Congress Committee (AICC) is learnt to be ready with its twitter handle, which would be used not only to counter negative posts against the party and its leaders but also to disseminate information about its achievements and views on burning issues of the day. To this end, sources said, efforts would be made to use party leaders like Tharoor, who have lakhs of followers on Twitter, to retweet what is posted by the AICC. The Union minister was once at the receiving end of snide remarks and angry reactions from senior party colleagues for his controversial tweets like his "cattle class" comment.

The ruling party is also learnt to be planning to reach out to eminent personalities like Shah Rukh Khan, Shabana Azmi, and other "like-minded" individuals who are on twitter to carry forward the party's message. Yuva Desh, the Youth Congress's online magazine, already has over a million followers on the Facebook. Congress leaders like Digvijaya Singh, Manish Tewari, Anil Shastri, Shakeel Ahmed and Milind Deora, among others, are quite active on Twitter and they would be asked to retweet the AICC's tweets, said sources.

The AICC sub-group on communications and publicity, headed by Digvijaya Singh, was learnt to have recommended the setting up of a team of 35 people who would be assigned to swamp the social media space. The team would also be assigned to do "research" on current issues for party spokespersons and leaders. This comes weeks after Singh had alleged that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was running a Sanskar Kendra on the outskirts of Ahmedabad where about 50 paid professionals were used to post anti-Congress and anti-government messages. Union Minister Veerappa Moily's son-in-law Anand Adkoli is said to be overseeing the party's preparations for its foray into the social media.

Congress MP Deepender Hooda, who is a member of the sub-group, told The Indian Express, "It is true that our communications and publicity committee discussed the party's strategy regarding the social media also but I cannot share details of the party's internal report. We will be submitting the report and party leadership will take a call on the future course of action."

Asked about the plans to set up a team for social media, he quipped, "I am not aware of it."

The Congress had woken up to the impact of the social media during the anti-corruption agitations launched by Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal. Subsequent events like the "flash mob" protests by the youth in Delhi in the wake of the gangrape of a physiotherapy student in a moving bus forced the 128-year-old party to think about its presence on the social media. It had discussed the issue at the party's Chintan Shivir in Jaipur in January.

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