Print Edition - 2015-06-12 | News
Users praise PM’s first official tweet
Jun 11, 2015- Twitter is a battlefield, where a war of words is always ensuing and Prime Minister Sushil Koirala--a recent entrant--was introduced to the beauty of free speech on the platform, a few hours after joining the social networking site.
“Prime Minister Office Nepal is on Twitter’s Cyber Space from Today @KanakDixit @brblaaldhowj @setopati @OnlineKhabar,” read a tweet from what is now the prime minister’s official account. The handle @PM Nepal, gathered over 5,000 followers in the first 24 hours.
However, not everyone was happy with his first tweet. “@PM_Nepal first tweet could have been more exciting, but appreciated nonetheless,” tweeted Utsav Shakya of Global Shapers Kathmandu. His thoughts were echoed by a few others. “But seriously didn’t expect this tweet to be the first one from ?@PM_Nepal’s official twitter account,” tweeted Kanchan Ojha. “For initial tweet, this is unthoughtful, below PMO stature. Issue a PR instead,” tweeted Kashish Das Shrestha.
It is not known whether he read the comments but the PM’s third tweet a few hours later reached out to Nepalis all over the world. “I extend heartfelt greetings from Twitter to all Nepalis living all over the world and all our well wishers,” he tweeted.
According to Prateek Pradhan, the prime minister’s press advisor, the handle not only belongs to the incumbent chief executive but his predecessors as well. “It is the existing handle not only PM’s official handle. We wish to institutionalise this handle, and assist all the PMs in the future to be transparent,” he tweeted. PM Koirala already has a separate twitter account under the handle @SushilKoiralaNC, which has a little over 3,000 followers.
While Facebook remains the most popular social networking site in Nepal, Twitter is becoming increasingly popular where users--from writers, journalists to politicians and activists--debate on pertinent issues; there are at least one million twitter users from the country and the Prime Minister’s account has a lot of catching up to do.
Until last year, it was only opposition leader Baburam Bhattarai who managed to gather 100,000 followers but a number of public figures have now crossed the 100 thousand thresholds. In fact, Bhattarai is the second most followed twitter user in Nepal with 198,000 followers, and comes second to Lokman Singh Karki, chief of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority, who is leading the twitter sphere with over 398,000 followers. Among other twitter savvy politicians are Gagan Thapa with a following of 145,000, Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat with 63,500 and Kamal Thapa with 69.700. Journalist and writer Rabindra Mishra also has 128,000 followers. In the aftermath of the Great Quake, other institutions such as Nepal Police and Nepal Army have also taken up twitter engaging with users.
As it is with social media network, the platform is used not only to broadcast rigid public messages but also to interact with citizens. The tone is expected to be conversational. An interesting part of this growing cyber culture has been digital diplomacy via taking “selfies”. In fact, two of the only people the Prime Minister is following at the time of writing--Indian PM Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama--have taken iconic selfies with leaders of the world, that went viral on social media. It will be interesting to see whether, if at all, the prime minister of Nepal decides to jump that wagon.
Correction: Earlier version of this article mentioned PM Koirala's personal handle as @SushilKoirala has been corrected
Published: 12-06-2015 11:36