#TeamBaan: Twitter army behind dislikes on PM Modi's YouTube videos, and much more

As anger over Central Government's decision to hold JEE-NEET exam disseminated last month, an unusual phenomenon was witnessed on 'Mann Ki Baat' video of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on YouTube. The videos posted on YouTube channels of Modi and the ruling BJP accrued lakhs of dislikes.

Later, other videos of Modi saw a similar campaign with even some TV channels facing the wrath of angry users.

The comment section of the videos was filled with remarks critical of the BJP and Modi. The admins of the YouTube channels later disabled comments on the video.

The BJP had alleged involvement of the Congress and had even claimed that 98% of the "dislikes" for the YouTube video of Modi's "Mann Ki Baat" programme came from abroad.

On August 31, BJP IT department head Amit Malviya said, "Over the last 24hrs, there has been a concerted effort to dislike Mann Ki Baat video on YouTube... So low is the Congress on confidence that it has been celebrating it as some sort of conquest! However, data from YouTube suggests that only 2% of those dislikes are from India."

While the BJP may have not been wrong and the campaign indeed had involvement of Congress social media handles, it was, however, not led by the opposition party as alleged by Malviya. Instead, a group of Twitter handles, posing as parody accounts critical of the ruling dispensation was behind the campaign and was lent support by not only Congress but also the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) social media team.

In the past week, a hashtag - #TeamBaan - has appeared frequently on the microblogging website Twitter. It also appears in the bio of some Twitter users, most prominently among them are AAP activist Ankit Lal and anonymous but popular Twitter user Rofl Gandhi.

Besides, some less prominent but active Twitter handles associated with the AAP can be seen displaying #TeamBaan in their bio. A particular campaign targeting BJP leaders is also hashtagged with #TeamBaan.

For example, Rofl Gandhi on Saturday launched an "auction" for a caricature mocking BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra.

Here are some of tweets from the handle:

Here are some other Twitter users calling for "dislike" on videos using hashtag #TeamBaan

The BJP, which aced the social media game before any other party even realised its strength, has been beaten at its own game by #TeamBaan. The saffron party may be right about concerted effort to "dislike" Modi's video, it is wrong on who is leading the campaign.

What's in the name?

ROFL Gandhi's loyal followers call themselves Team Baan. It all started when the news channels started putting up Twitter polls with questions like 'do you support Prime Minister Modi' on a particular issue. ROFL Gandhi would simply direct his followers there, sort of advising them how to vote.

Why is it called Team Baan? The origins are in the meme: "iss ke pet mein baan maariye, Prabhu. (Hit an arrow in his belly, Lord)" This is from Ramanand Sagar's Ramayan that was re-telecast during the early days of lockdown. The meme became quite popular and ROFL Gandhi's loyal followers decided to call themselves Team Baan. Before raiding a poll, they would ask, "iss ke pet mein baan maariye, Prabhu."

So the poll became Ravan and the team hunts together to kill the poll.

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Free Press Journal