Twitter Fame | Omar Abdullah to cross 3 million followers mark soon

Omar Abdullah, the Leader of Opposition in J&K Legislative Assembly was the 8th Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir from 5th January 2009 to 8th January 2015. He is famous on social media platforms and leads the pack of leaders on Twitter in J&K boasting around 2.99 million followers. Omar Abdullah is likely to cross the 3 million Twitter follower mark in few weeks.

Omar joined politics in 1998, as a Lok Sabha member and repeated the success in subsequent three elections and also remained the Union minister. Later, he took the responsibility of National Conference from his father in 2002 after losing his own seat of Ganderbal during the 2002 state assembly elections. And four years later, he contested once again from the same seat and won in the 2008 Kashmir Elections.

Much has been written about social media's transformative potential with regard to the future of the democracy and Omar Abdullah seemed to have adopted the policy efficiently and embraced technology and digital media quite early in 2010. He follows close to 440 people and has tweeted around 14.3k times. He is famous among his followers for quick-witted replies to every incident in his own state and around the globe.

His twitter feed is flooded with opinions on recent occurrences in Srinagar valley, prime-time discussions, technological advancements, football and even Netflix shows.

Oftentimes, Omar Abdullah can be seen tagging J&K Governor on Twitter and requesting his intervention on a string of issues. The recent problems include beating up of Kashmiri students in Greater Noida's Sharda University and the introduction of Urdu Bhagavad Gita and Ramayan in J&K Schools and colleges.

Omar Abdullah tweeted questioning the selectiveness of the decision. "Why just the Gita and Ramayana? If religious texts are to be placed in schools, collages & government libraries (and I'm not convinced that they need/should be) then why is it being done selectively? Why are other religions being ignored?" Immediately after few hours of the tweet, the order was withdrawn.

Recently, the former Chief Minister received flak for slamming the Indian government's move of sharing the stage with the Taliban at a "non-official level" in Moscow.

On Thursday night, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted "If 'non-official' participation in a dialogue that includes the Taliban is acceptable to the Modi government why not a "non-official" dialogue with non-mainstream stake holders in J&K? Why not a "non-official" dialogue centered on J&K's eroded autonomy & its restoration?"

But with all ups and downs on digital platform, we all know that Twitter provides a great opportunity to world leaders to transform the way they communicate with citizens. Omar Abdullah's rise to prominence on Twitter has indeed changed the model of political communication but at the same time, it is a challenge for other local political leaders.

A general assessment suggests that Omar Abdullah primarily use Twitter more as a communication tool than as an instrument of broadcast for creating an engaging political communications environment in the state. In this digital age, we need more local leaders on social media platforms to change the old concept of interaction and for more accountable democratic system.


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Hardeep Bali