A place like Twitter can often be an echo chamber where people with similar outlook try to form pressure groups trending hashtags or hounding down people to make their point.

Chandan Mitra

What happens when you score a same-side goal? The crowd boos you, the coach may substitute you, but in the Twitter world, the bhakts troll you. Journalist and BJP MP Chandan Mitra were heckled massively on Twitter for saying that policy decisions were not made based solely on Twitter chatter and in a flippant way said that there are some people with nothing better to do on Twitter.This obviously irked the large BJP support group on Twitter who were hugely critical of the Rajya Sabha MP. In their self-righteousness, they decided that the jibe was intended at them. Even Mitra’s son was not spared and came in for a fair amount of abuse and ridicule. Many were also pissed off with the fact that Chandan spoke on NDTV, perceived to be biased against the right-wing and the present government.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Now, there are two things that must be critically analysed. One is Chandan’s observation of people having nothing better to do or being ‘jobless’. To brand an entire class of supporters or Twitter users into one homogeneous entity is definitely not a wise decision, considering there are many who sacrificed their work to contribute to the cause of BJP, in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Their indignation with Mitra’s jibe is perfectly justified and reasonable. The second point which is the more important, is the one made by Pioneer editor that got lost in the high decibels— how much can a party listen to its volunteers after an election has been won?A place like Twitter can often be an echo chamber where people with a similar outlook try to form pressure groups, trend hashtags or hound people to make their point. But governance, is an art of deliberation, a work of great nuance. Obstructionism and absolute positions work well in opposition and almost all parties are guilty of that. But in power, parties tend to drift towards a middle ground so that decisions taken are palatable to the largest possible segment of the population and not just to its hard-core fans and supporters. It is a populist and a pragmatic decision at the same time.But it often leads to positions which may deem as a betrayal to the core support base, which can result in cognitive dissonance. Resumption of talks between India and Pakistan is one such issue where the government has no option but to dial down the rhetoric if it seeks to attain something meaningful in the future.Before Chandan Mitra, it was Anurag Thakur who said that Twitter is not necessarily the voice of the nation. This is a deep snub to many of the supporters who seek validation from this echo chamber. The Modi government to its credit has tried to preserve the line of conversation going with the supporters and people in general through forums like My gov.in.The PM recognises this support, as he met 150 social media influencers who played a prominent role before the elections. Leaders like Smriti Irani and Piyush Goyal have acknowledged the supporters in various forums. Yet, the growing sense of disenchantment is palpable. Maybe, because it is hard to believe but actually true that now the leaders they had supported are the Lutyens elite. It takes a Nitin Gadkari to be stuck in a traffic jam to understand the pitiable state of infrastructure in the National Highways.The elusive achhe din and the fact that none of the core issues have been resolved—from bringing black money back to no headway in Ram Temple formation—has increased despondency of the supporters. Many in Kashmir thought that joining hands with PDP was a ‘grand betrayal’ by the BJP which the party leadership didn’t pay heed to.Will the ‘nationalist’ supporters boycott the India-Pakistan cricket series if the government gives it a green signal? What about Modi’s visit to Pakistan, as announced by Sushma Swaraj? How will they react if India decides to make some concessions in Paris, as has been widely speculated? One suspects Chandan Mitra and his politically incorrect jibe may only be the tip of the iceberg. The bhakts may be in for similar heartbreaks in the future.

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Chandan Mitra and the ‘bhakts’: Why BJP’s online support shouldn’t overreact