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White House losing Twitter war to India’s Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Vadodara, India. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Although he has only been India's prime minister for about a month, Narendra Modi  has already beaten the White House -- on Twitter.

@NarendraModi's Twitter account has reached 5 million followers, beating out the @WhiteHouse account of 4.98 million followers, making him the fourth-most-followed leader in the world.

Even though having a huge amount of Twitter followers in a country that has a median age of 26 with 200 million active Web users seems natural, this is still a significant milestone. In 2009, there was only one Indian politician on Twitter -- Shashi Tharoor, who then had only 6,000 followers according to NDTV. Now, he has more than two million followers and is the second-most followed politician, behind Modi.

Dubbed “India’s first social media election” by CNN -- Twitter, Facebook and Google played a huge role in the new prime minister’s campaign. On Holi, a Hindu festival which took place in April, he sent his followers Direct Messages on Twitter, wishing them a happy holiday. Beyond that, he used GoogleHangouts and holograms during campaign appearances.

In 2013, 20 million Indian election-related conversations took place on Twitter. Modi, unlike his opponent Rahul \Gandhi, used Twitter relentlessly, and yes -- he posted a selfie.

His victory tweet became the most retweeted one in Indian history, though not as popular as Obama's.


He still has ways to go to beat @BarackObama, President Obama's campaign account, which has more than 43 million followers.

Swati Sharma is a digital editor for World and National Security and previously worked at the Boston Globe.

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