Modi in 29-tweet pre-election blitz

Workers with a cut-out of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a store in New Delhi. The country's 900 million voters will be casting their ballots between April 11 and May 19.
Workers with a cut-out of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a store in New Delhi. The country's 900 million voters will be casting their ballots between April 11 and May 19.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

NEW DELHI • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched an early-morning Twitter blitz yesterday, calling directly on Bollywood and sports stars and others to urge Indians to vote in the country's upcoming mammoth elections.

In 29 rapid-fire tweets, Mr Modi tagged cricketers Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and Bollywood actors Ranveer Singh and Vicky Kaushal, asking them to inspire others to exercise their franchise in the world's largest democracy.

"Dear @msdhoni, @imVkohli and @ImRo45. You are always setting outstanding records on the cricketing field but this time, do inspire the (1.3 billion) people of India to set a new record of high voter turnout in the upcoming elections," one message ran. "When this happens, democracy will be the winner!"

Mr Modi, 68, swept his right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power in 2014, forming the country's first majority government in almost three decades.

Although still popular, he faces a challenge to repeat the feat when India's 900 million voters cast their ballots between April 11 and May 19.

The opposition said Mr Modi's flagship policies have failed to produce promised jobs, while thousands of debt-ridden farmers have committed suicide in recent years.

Mr Modi, who has a massive 46.3 million followers on Twitter, also reached out to his political rivals, including Mr Rahul Gandhi who heads the centre-left Congress party. "A high turnout augurs well for our democratic fabric," he said in his tweet marked to Mr Gandhi.

In his tweet to Bollywood stars Singh and Kaushal, Mr Modi picked dialogues from their hit movies Gully Boy, and Uri: The Surgical Strike, and said they could motivate young people to use their voting right.

"It is time to tell them: Apna Time Aa Gaya Hai (our time has come) and that it is time to turn up with high Josh (fervour) to a voting centre near you."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2019, with the headline 'Modi in 29-tweet pre-election blitz'. Print Edition | Subscribe