NOVEMBER 16, 2014 Former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai’s followers on Twitter have crossed the 100,000 mark, making him the most popular Twitter celebrity in Nepal. The New York-based Nepali fashion designer Prabal Gurung has more than 165,000 followers. Gurung has 13,900 tweets while Bhattarai has close to 900. Bhattarai’s fame is remarkable considering the period he has been on Twitter and the number of tweets.

The UCPN (Maoist) leader joined Twitter in January 2013 with the handle brb_laaldhwoj. Gurung joined the social media in May, 2009. Bhattarai has acknowledged his followers: “I thank all fellow 100,000 tweeple. Let us continue to use the social network for healthy debate,” he tweeted in Nepali on Monday morning. His tweets range from political commentaries to congratulatory notes to the national cricket team.

According to Twitonomy, a Twitter analytical site, the most retweeted tweet of his was the praise for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Modi has won d heart&mind of Nepalese people with his magical address 2 d legislature-parliament of Nepal.” The August 3 post was retweeted 667 times.

His tweets also include political promise: “@OmBhaktaUprety1...Give me single party majority govt. for 5 yrs like in Bihar. If i don’t show results, you can shoot me, young friends.”

Other popular public figures on twitter are Nepali Congress Leader Gagan Thapa, with over 71,000 followers, and Chief CIAA Commissioner Lok Man Singh Karki, who joined Twitter in May last year and has more than 44,000 followers.

Journalists are also popular on the site. Rabindra Mishra has 66,000 followers, Narayan Shrestha has 59,000, Narayan Wagle 55,000 and Sudheer Sharma has 33,000 followers.

There are a total of 64.5 million registered Twitter users worldwide with 135,000 new users signing up every day. The average number of tweets per day is around 58 million, according to Twitter.

While there is no exact number of Twitter users in Nepal, it is estimated around 3 million. Twitter was launched to public on July 15, 2006.

According to a survey conducted in 2013 among Twitter users in Nepal, 84 percent believe celebrities and politicians can benefit on the platform. In the study carried out by the Centre for Media Research Nepal, over 1008 Twitter responses were received, of which only 625 complete responses were considered for analysis.

With over 59 million followers, American Popstar Katy Perry tops the chart, followed by Canadian popstar Justin Bieber, who has over 56 million fans. US President Barack Obama comes third with 49.4 million followers.

(Source : The Kathmandu Post Daily, 11 November 2014)