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.
Sonia Gandhi can easily be branded as one of the lesser known faces on social media. In spite of her sizeable fan following in the non-virtual world, the Congress President has not taken to social media as Narendra Modi or Arvind Kejriwal have. Her instant claim to fame 5 years ago was when she pushed Manmohan Singh as the prime minister of India and stepped back herself. Unfortunately for Manmohan Singh, his infamous popularity seemed to dupe him as well as the party.
Over the time, Rahul Gandhi’s failing reputation proved to stir an extreme negative sentiment amongst the online users. The conversations were at its peak after his interview with Times Now. Such negative fan following ultimately affected Sonia Gandhi’s image. Neither did she take to the media, nor did she reach out to masses in any significant way. Her silence was extended on Social Media too.
However, sentiments are undeniably prevailing on social media with respect to her actions and political manifestos.
Though Congress has a solid presence on most platforms, it is not very surprising that Sonia Gandhi has hardly connected with her followers especially since the poster boy Rahul Gandhi too dismisses social platforms.
The question is: Does she need to be on social media? Would it help her bettering the battered image in any way? Probably it would.
Conversations on Facebook and Twitter
On Facebook, a community page has been created for Sonia Gandhi and it has 225K fans and 21K+ people talking about the page. The page is constantly revealing her actions, and emotionally targeting people. Her temple visits, ritual performances and heartwarming photographs are captured and projected through this page. I was especially interested to see the kind of engagement in each post.
There was this one image that really caught my attention. Sonia Gandhi posed with Rahul Gandhi to show their fingers after casting their vote, creating a lot of engagement on that post. This kind of social images can sure go viral, also they possess the scope of keeping their fans updated. However, since this is a community page and not an official representation of her, there are no authentic party updates.
A platform where she could have reached out to online users would have immensely helped her voice her opinion. Her recent speech in Amethi which highlighted the work of Congress and her pledge for son Rahul’s victory bought along a lot of criticism on Twitter.
Her being constantly in touch with the masses and influencers would have probably not led to such a widespread condemnation of her speaking so late in the day.
Reactions and remarks
It was also interesting to note that conversations among influencers that revolved around Manmohan Singh or Rahul Gandhi, automatically drew Sonia Gandhi within the talk.
It is sad to see that a woman who is counted among one of the most powerful politicians in the world, facing rude remarks like Italian waitress on social media owing to her silence at various media outlets. Her unwillingness to embrace a channel where she can directly talk to her fans and followers only shows the level of ignorance she wishes to surround herself with.
Infact, most of the news that mentions Sonia Gandhi is hardly directed towards her and is more about Priyanka Gandhi, Robert Vadera, the former PM and her son.
Sentiment and Mentions
In terms of sentiment, since she is hardly present, she largely receives neutral sentiments. However, when compared, she has more negative sentiment than positive. On 14th April, social media had more negative sentiments (31) right after more positive sentiments on the day before (19), 13th April.
This was post her appeal to Indians and her criticisms against BJP and Narendra Modi. She probably struck a wrong chord with the masses in an attempt to be a little against the opposition party.
#Sonia4Gandhi4India is a very popular hashtag that contains tweets that express outrage with respect to her speech as well as positive sentiments
It would have been a great deal for Sonia Gandhi to embrace Social Media and have official accounts on Twitter and Facebook, considering her massive fan following. There are a lot of questions out there for Sonia Gandhi to address, yet she does not want to acknowledge the platforms. It will be interesting to see her soon if she intends, to be among the bandwagon of politicians on Social Media.
Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi come from a family that spells legacy. They have a certain image to maintain and it can be safely argued that their absence on social media platforms is as strategic a move as the publicized visits and ‘poojas’. The family need not be on social media so that they can maintain the ethereal charm that surrounds them. However, what they do not realize is that the times are changing and most things are turning on their head, owing to the power of expression provided by social media.
If they really do care about the masses then participating in conversation is their best bet. If the frequency of their visits to the houses of those less-fortunate is to be believed, then their presence of social media would have offered them an edge. Why and how they choose to ignore this fact is beyond the comprehension of most.