When election season arrives, one can count on Narendra Modi to unveil new ways of reaching voters, each tailored to specific voter segments.

Who can forget the ‘chaiwala’ (tea-seller) jab aimed at Narendra Modi, then Chief Minister of Gujarat, by a Congress leader in 2014. Instead of being rattled, the BJP cleverly transformed this jibe into an advantage, crafting brand Modi out of it. The humble ‘chai’ was not just a beverage; it became a tool to connect with voters through virtual platforms.

Ten years ago, virtual meetings were not as common as they are today. In his first ‘chai pe charcha’ on February 12, 2014, Modi said this concept integrated different technologies such as DTH, Facebook, and YouTube, among others, to reach the public.

From a tea stall in Ahmedabad, Modi conversed with people across 1,000 tea stalls in 300 locations nationwide, discussing a plethora of issues. ‘Chai Pe Charcha’ centred around three things: sharing personal stories, asking questions directly to Modi, and suggesting solutions to pressing issues.

In subsequent editions of ‘charcha’, Modi had interactions with women on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2014, and farmers from various parts of the country on March 20, 2014, focussing on issues related to them.

In 2019, despite sticking to traditional strategies, Modi surprised everyone by sitting down for an interview with Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar. Touted as a ‘non-political’ chat, the interview, posted on YouTube on April 24, 2019, offered insights into Modi’s life, including his family, upbringing, and even his sleep habits. The interview sparked discussions on social media, with some questioning its timing.

Looking back at Akshay Kumar’s filmography before the interview, one can see some hit movies such as Baby, Airlift, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Padman, and Kesari, addressing issues such as patriotism, sanitation, and women’s health, among others.

This week, on April 13, a video featuring his interaction with seven young gamers was featured on his YouTube channel. Some of these gamers, who are also content creators, have 37 lakh to 1.47 crore subscribers on their channels. They also shared this video on their own channels.

These gamers discussed not only their gaming journeys but also the latest developments in the gaming world. Modi actively engaged with them, seeking their advice and even trying out some virtual reality, computer, and mobile games.

Recalling Modi’s Google Hangout meet in 2012, Kishor Cariappa, a Mangaluru-based media consultant, told businessline that this initiative of the then Gujarat Chief Minister had marked the beginning of innovative technology-based outreach efforts.

Interestingly, the 2012 Google Hangout was hosted by Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn, who had delivered some hit movies such as Golmaal-3, Singham, and Bol Bachhan years prior to that.

Stating that Modi’s initiative to connect with the post-2004 generation through gaming represents a pioneering step, Cariappa said some may dismiss engaging with gamers as a futile endeavour, yet it reveals a strategic vision to shape the minds of future national contributors by 2047. “Those fixated on a single electoral victory lack the depth of understanding required to appreciate such an approach,” Cariappa said.