Home > India, Life, Media > Social Media Strikes Again: Indian Politics and Cricket

Social Media Strikes Again: Indian Politics and Cricket

A few days ago I had analyzed the effective use of Twitter in public negotiation to resolve a stand-off at the crossroads of Indian politics and Bollywood.   This week a new battle is brewing where politics meets the lucre of cricket.  (The rise of the Indian cricket and the IPL has been fascinating.  Read more for context here.)

IPL expansion: shenanigans and social media

The two new slots opening up in the IPL were keenly contested and several business conglomerates, large corporations, celebrities and others in power were jockeying for ownership of the two teams.  The Sahara group won Pune and a consortium called Rendezvous Sports won a team for the city of Kochi in Kerala.   Celebrations ensued but there were apparently several people unhappy with the outcome.

Mysteriously, Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, who is active on Twitter put out this tweet on April 11th around 3.45pm.

A lot of you asking shareholders and events surrounding the kochi team. I am compilling a note shortly and will put an offical release soon.

Followed by this tweet:

Who are the shareholders of rendezvous. And why have they been given this 100’s of million dollar bonanza ?

He then went on to use Twitter to divulge details of ownership of Rendezvous including a controversial “free equity” allocation which implied that a prominent Minister in the Central Government (Shashi Tharoor) pulled strings in lieu of an allocation for a personal friend.   This has kicked up a storm about the possibility of a sitting Minister peddling influence in exchange for personal gain.

Tharoor responded with his own tweets and blog to defend his involvement as being purely in the interests of his constituency (the city of Kochi).  The implication from his aides elsewhere was that the Commissioner is trying to taint the winning bid so he can hand the team over to one of the jilted suitors that he favors.

The bottom line

The story is still playing out with politicians clamoring for the truth from both sides and this will likely hurt the career of one or both characters involved.  It is however interesting to note that in a country with just about 10M broadband Internet users and few active users of social media relative to the fan base that cricket enjoys, the size of the Minister’s constituency, and the readership of print publications, it is social media that is the chosen platform for this duel to play out.

Traditional media is just another consumer of the news in this case.  However it does play an important role relaying it to the majority that lies beyond the reach of Twitter and the blogosphere.

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Categories: India, Life, Media

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