This is a part of a series where we pick data from the MTS Election Tracker, crunch numbers and build a graphical representation of them. We have used Konnect Social to track the data along with support from our knowledge partner,Social Rajneeti. Read other articles about Election tracker here.
As the incumbent Minister of Communications and Information Technology and Minister of Law and Justice – since assuming office for these portfolios in 2010 and 2013 respectively under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition government – Kapil Sibal has seen his fair share of controversy and activity over his tenure.
Lawyer, author, MP, member of several prolific panels, and former Minister of Human Resource Development, Science and Technology, and Earth Sciences are some of the hats Sibal wears. Having filed his nomination as a member of the Indian National Congress from the historical Chandni Chowk in New Delhi for the ongoing 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Kapil Sibal will square off against candidates like MLA Harsh Vardhan of the Bharatiya Janata Party, and former journalist Ashutosh of the Aam Aadmi Party.
Given that he currently holds charge of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Sibal has always had a fairly resonant voice in the media sphere, especially after massive controversy dogged his efforts post 2011 to ask Internet giants Facebook, Yahoo and Google amongst others in India to pre-screen “inflammatory or disparaging” content, after an uncomplimentary social media page about party president Sonia Gandhi came into the limelight. Soon after, he was in the eye of the storm again for insisting that he did not believe in censorship, despite his actions. Social media denizens in particular erupted when faced with the prospect of a clampdown.
Kapil Sibal comes across as an outspoken politician and a fairly erudite spokesperson of his beliefs, however paradoxical they may be – his remarks have generated more than enough debate and outrage online.
While he has a fairly active presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus and has his own official website too, he does not seem to be present on several other social media, except for some satirical pages he clearly does not endorse.
This is how Sibal most recently fares online, when it comes to relative prominence and associated content:
When it comes to Twitter, the outspoken plethora has always had much to say about Kapil Sibal, especially after the censorship controversy broke out some years ago, and hashtags like #KapilSibal and #IdiotKapilSibal became famous in a matter of hours.
Sibal himself became an active member of the Twitterati since he started his official verified account – @KapilSibal – around November 2013, and since then, has been at the receiving end of both brickbats and bouquets from his (now) 90,378 followers.
While he himself follows only 38 people – mostly political contacts and prolific Indian personalities – he has barely tweeted 200 times over the last 6 months.
His level of engagement with the average person interacting with him is not very high, and it at all, he mostly replies to political allies and rivals, of recent times. However, if you go back far enough, you do get to see the rare conversation with a non-celebrity tweeter. When he started out, there was much higher engagement with the average tweeter – but this has not been so for the last few months.
A large number of Sibal’s tweets seem to be about political updates, a smattering of Opposition bashing, some cultural events and updates, congratulations, condolences, opinions about ongoing current affairs (largely in keeping with the Congress party’s line of thought), etc.
However, given the Communications and Information Technology portfolio Sibal holds, he could definitely do with a little more activity on Twitter, a social media forum that is an major direct connection with India online. Currently, having not even hit 1 lakh followers in the crucial first few months that he has initiated a Twitter account, that too just before historic LS polls, Sibal seems to be lagging slightly behind in terms of generating interest.
On Facebook, Kapil Sibal has approximately 15,496 likes, at latest count. It is a verified account that has been active since 2005, so this is not exactly an overwhelming follower count. In fact, compared to several peers like Akhilesh Yadav, Arvind Kejriwal, Sharad Pawar, and others, Kapil Sibal ranks positively on the lowest rung when it comes to fans on Facebook.
Total fans on Facebook
His engagement on this social media site as the percentage of fans is around 65.92 at the moment.
Total Engagement on Facebook
Interestingly, his engagement over time with followers seems to be a fairly steady graph line with no real spikes, indicating a constant and relatively low level of engagement with the online masses on this social media forum.
Engagement over time on Facebook
Content on the Facebook page mainly centres around Sibal’s activities in the course of holding charge of various ministries, travels, campaign trails and information, attended events, media interviews and even some poetry, accompanied with several photographs, videos and graphics. Engagement with his fans in terms of likes and comments seems to be fairly constant.
A huge number of satirical pages making fun of Sibal can also be found on Facebook, many of which came up following the politician’s efforts in 2011-12 to implement some highly controversial censorship onto the Indian online sphere, which had met with heavy criticism and surprise on the global level.
Elsewhere on social media
Sibal’s channel on YouTube yields a fair number of recent and past speeches and interviews of the politician. He also has a range of videos about voters from his Chandni Chowk constituency. However, this channel has a mere 38 subscribers, which is massively low if compared with some other prolific politicians.
With over 893,324 views on Google Plus, Sibal’s verified page comprises mainly of information around his campaign trail, social issues and general party information, with content fairly similar to the Facebook page. One does not see the level of engagement with followers here that is there on Facebook, with no replies or direct communication with commenters.
With barely 31 posts and 11 followers, Sibal’s Instagram page seems to be a fairly recent occurrence as well, with the first post on having been uploaded only two months ago. There does not appear to be much excitement or dialogue created around the pictures posted here, which largely comprise images from his pre-election campaign trail.
Sibal also has his own site –– which is a fairly well laid out, recently updated forum, integrated with his online presence on other social media.
Besides some satirical pages in his name, the politico does not appear to be present on Tumblr, Pinterest, or StumbleUpon.
An interesting tracker of how a personality fares in the face of outspoken online denizens, the sentiment surrounding Kapil Sibal seems to be largely neutral in most recent times, which shows that he has managed to weather some severely controversial times and emerge fairly unscathed, at an important juncture like the ongoing LS polls. However, he is not exactly popular in the news either.
In the period between April 7-13, 2014, Sibal has had a mere 254 web mentions in total, out of which 15 were in the negative realm, taking the % Negative to 5.91. What is not a very stand out fact for the politician is that there was only 1 positive mention in the entire mass, which stands for 0.4% of the total. Clearly, neutral mentions dominated the pack at 93.7%, or 238 such mentions within a week.
The sentiment by date shows a rise in mentions mid-week, which dips again thereafter, with some negative mentions making their presence felt towards the end of the week within the large swathe of neutral ones.
Sentiment by date
This is interesting, given that last week BJP came out strongly against Sibal and accused him of not disclosing properties owned by his wife after he filed his election affidavit as a candidate from his old stronghold, Chandni Chowk.
Some particular news sites such as Hindustan Times, ANI News , Times of India and IBN Live seem to dominate when it comes to negative mentions of the politician most recently. While First Post dominates both in news of Sibal as well as neutral mentions, Economic Times follows close behind. Others like NDTV and the The Hindu, though with the occasional neutral mention of Sibal, seem to be concentrating more on other news, with the least coverage of this politician over recent times
Top websites charting sentiment
If Kapil Sibal took his post as Union ‘Communications’ Minister a little more seriously with regards to the online Indian masses, it might benefit him a little more in terms of popularity within a certain demographic. When not courting controversy, Sibal seems to be fairly out of the scope of attention of the average online denizen. His online presence has picked up in the run-up to the general elections, but one cannot be sure that if he were to win, he could definitively attribute a percentage of his victory to his online popularity.
Kapil Sibal being the Communication Minister has drawn enough controversy with respect to social media policies and law. His own social media presence does not boast of a large following. Unfortunatley, the guy hasnt been able to make much use of social media. Demeaning hashtags and hardly any positive sentiment has instead damaged his reputation online. He could have easily gained an edge with his position in the government, by coming across as a futuristic minister instead of regressive one. Trying to be present on all platforms but barely using them stems from the herd mentality: be there because all others are there.