Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has added the prefix 'Chowkidar' (watchman) to his Twitter profile as part of a campaign ahead of national elections scheduled for next month, Indian media reported on Sunday.
The origin of the term dates back to the 2014 Indian elections, when Modi had promised to serve as a 'chowkidar' to safeguard the interests of his country's citizens.
But Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had turned the word into a jibe instead, mocking Modi with the phrase "Chowkidar chor hai (the watchman is a thief)" — based on allegations that Modi's government committed corruption by purchasing overpriced Rafale fighter jets from France.
In what is being seen as a move to counter the Congress slogan, Modi, who has a massive 46.4 million followers, had on Saturday taken to Twitter to start the #MainBhiChowkidar (I am a watchman too) campaign.
"Your Chowkidar is standing firm & serving the nation," the Indian prime minister had tweeted, adding that he wasn't alone and that everyone fighting "corruption, dirt, social evils" is a chowkidar. A video accompanying the tweet showed Indians from different walks of life signing the song "Main bhi chowkidar hoon".
Following Modi's move to change his Twitter name to ‘Chowkidar Narendra Modi’, a number of leaders from his party and ministers too added 'Chowkidar' before their profile titles, Hindustan Times reported.
Modi, 68, swept his right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party to power in 2014, forming the country's first majority government in almost three decades.
But despite remaining popular, he faces a challenge to repeat the feat when India's 900 million voters cast ballots between April 11 and May 19.
The opposition says Modi's flagship policies have failed to produce promised jobs, while thousands of debt-ridden farmers have committed suicide in recent years.
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His party, however, seems to have gained ground after India launched air strikes against Pakistan last month following a suicide bombing that killed 40 Indian troops in occupied Kashmir.