One of the reasons for Modi’s presence in Russia is to attend the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) starting from 1 June.
On 2 June, NBC News carried a short promotional video of its anchor Megyn Kelly with PM Modi and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, ahead of the SPIEF meeting.
In the video Kelly is seen welcoming the two heads of states while introducing herself.
No sooner does she complete her introduction, Modi tells Kelly, “I saw your tweets. With an umbrella.”
This leaves the NBC anchor visibly surprised as she reacts in utter disbelief.
She asks, “..Are you on Twitter (too)?”
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 1, 2017
Modi and Kelly don’t follow each other, so for the prime minister to be able to see Kelly’s photo was either through someone he followed retweeting or liking the image or he personally may have made an effort to go through Kelly’s profile.
This is was photo of Kelly that made Modi excited.
Things are looking up in St. Petersburg – the rain stopped…& I will interview President Putin on Friday. pic.twitter.com/3MJ3IoIhlH
— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) June 1, 2017
Modi is one of the most followed politicians on Twitter. His personal @narendramodi account has little more 30 million followers while his @PMOIndia account has 18.2 million followers.
Kelly, for her part, has over 2 million followers on Twitter.
The prime minister has successfully exploited the social media tools to extract desired electoral mileage in the past. According to many analysts, his ascendancy to power in 2014 was largely due to how he and his party, the BJP, used social media to their advantage.
It’s in this context that Kelly’s reaction will not go down well many Indians, particularly those die-hard supporters of PM Modi.
BJP’s detractors have been quick to poke fun at the Modi supporters in a bid to draw home a point that the world media had very little awareness about Modi despite his frequent foreign trips.
Here are some of the reactions;
— Sagarika Ghose (@sagarikaghose) June 2, 2017
Ouch. Bhakts code red! https://t.co/fpgqj1PtN8
— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) June 2, 2017
— churumuri (@churumuri) June 2, 2017