New Delhi, Jan 25 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has joined popular microblogging site Twitter - aiming to capture the attention of young Indians and inform people about the work done by his office through 140 characters. The account attracted nearly 13,000 followers within 24 hours of being set up.
"The Prime Minister's Office is now on Twitter @PMOIndia. Thank you for your support," Manmohan Singh's newly-appointed communications advisor Pankaj Pachauri said on his own Twitter account.
Within hours of the account, which has a smiling profile picture of the prime minister, set up late Monday, Manmohan Singh attracted some 13,000 followers with just four tweets till Tuesday evening. Three of them were posted Monday night and only one a day after.
The account refers to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and it would be handled by his media team, PMO sources said.
With this Manmohan Singh has joined the elite club of world leaders on Twitter.
US President Barack Obama was among the first to use the micro-blogging service to communicate with his electorate in 2008. His Twitter account @BarackObama, is among the most followed of all world-leader accounts, with more than 12 million followers.
Among others on the Twitter include Australian prime minister @JuliaGillard, her New Zealand counterpart @JohnKeyPM, Israel's prime minister Benjamin @Netanyahu and UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum.
The prime minister's opponents have been criticising him for maintaining a silence over burning issues and remaining inaccessible to the media.
A close aide said that the work done by his office was not being "reflected properly".
"The Twitter account may help in sending out the information to larger, particularly young, audiences," the aide said.
His first three tweets were about a function on bravery awards. This included his picture with the winners.
"You make all of us proud... PM tells young bravehearts," read a tweet, which provided a link to his public speech at the bravery awards function.
The tweet on Tuesday was a picture during his meeting with visiting Myanmar Foreign Affairs Minister U. Wunna Maung Lwin.
PMO sources said there was a possibility that Manmohan Singh would send out tweets personally in future.
The account, trending fast on the site, has already opened up a barrage of reactions from people, including former junior minister Shashi Tharoor who was pulled up by his own government for his tweets on policy initiatives.
"@PMOIndia. Delighted to welcome PM's office to Twitter, two & a quarter years after he first asked me about it. Excellent initiative, way2go!" Tharoor wrote.
The prime minister's account has also invited criticism and sarcastic comments from his followers on the site.
Said @rajennair: "Now our PM will speak through tweets, no one can blame him anymore of silence."
Soumya Mukherjee @i1_2ramble commented: "So #PMOIndia is a brilliant example of ventriloquism if I am not wrong?".
"The #PMOIndia twitter account is a brilliant attempt to tweet silence in 140 characters," said @RoflIndian.
As author Salman Rushdie's vidoe talk cancellation forced by hardline Muslim leaders was trending fast on the net, Nirupama Subramanian @tallstories wrote to the prime minister: "Shame @PMOIndia (SIC) that you stood by and watched as the Congress government in R'than (Rajasthan) abdicated its job, lied through its teeth on #Rushdie."
Pradip Mazumder @repubindia wrote: "Rushdie, J. Leno etc. are non issues, rather we should focus on more significant issues lk (like) unemployment, corruption, edu(cation), security."