It’s well known that BJP has a head start over other parties on social media, having been among the first to discover its potential for social mobilisation and propaganda. BJP IT cell boasts many volunteers who connect voters to the party’s message through various social media platforms. However, recent trending topics indicate that others who the saffronistas like to label as ‘anti-national’ have discovered their social media mojo as well, and are striking back.

Consider that in poll-bound Gujarat which is considered a BJP bastion, a social media campaign has the ruling dispensation worried. The campaign ‘Vikas Gando Thayo Che’ – which translates as ‘Development Has Gone Crazy’ – is taking potshots at the much vaunted ‘Gujarat model’. The campaign started when 20-year-old engineering student Sagar Savaliya posted online a photograph of a broken down state bus. Since then the hashtag has gone viral with people unleashing a barrage of memes with funny captions highlighting everything from poor condition of roads to fuel price hikes. Similarly, a hyper nationalistic TV news anchor known for his bombastic style recently found himself to be the butt of social media jokes, that credited him with everything from winning the cricket World Cup for India to declaring the country’s Independence in 1947.

If this weren’t enough, BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj too found himself at the receiving end of social media jibes for saying couples displaying affection in public should be arrested. Taken together, it appears that so-called ‘anti-nationals’ and ‘libtards’ have found their voice. They have certainly cracked the social media code and are using humour to give BJP and its supporters a dose of their own medicine. Naturally, opposition parties like Congress are trying to latch on to this trend and level the playing field, at least on social media.

Reviewing the fascinating book Progress by Swedish economic historian Johan Norberg, the Economist recently wrote, “People are predisposed to think that things are worse than they are, and they overestimate the likelihood of calamity. This is because they rely not on data, but on how easy it is to recall an example. And bad things are more memorable.”

These words aptly summarise the nature of the recent debate on growth in India. During 2014-15 to 2016-17, the real gross domestic product (GDP) at market prices grew 7.5% on average. This growth came on the heels of below-6% average growth during the last two years under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

However, when the Central Statistics Office (CSO) first released its estimate of robust 7.4% growth in 2014-15, most commentators including many of our leading economists rejected it arguing that it did not match their own assessment of reality on the ground. The common refrain was that the economy did not “feel” like it was growing at such a high rate.