Is upstart political campaigner Arvind Kejriwal more popular than Narendra Modi, the larger-than-life prime ministerial candidate of the Bhartiya Janata Party?
UPDATE: TIME has rejected most of the votes as fakes in its final tally, but maintained Kejriwal as the winner.
It would seem so, at least from the initial indications on the poll to nominate the “100 Most Influential People” in the world in 2014.
As of 1130 IST on Saturday, 41,138 wanted Arvind Kejriwal to be on Time’s top 100 list for 2014, while only 10,323 wanted Narendra Modi on the same list. (Update – As of Sunday morning, Kejriwal had around 81,400 yes votes and Modi had around 18,700 yes votes.)
While 84.3% of the votes cast on Arvind Kejriwal were positive, only 37.5% of votes cast on Modi were positive.
In fact, in terms of the total number of negative votes cast, Modi came second only to Justin Bieber, the Canadian pop sensation.
The numbers are in stark contrast to the overall ‘feel’ on Indian social media and news websites, where Modi’s supporters far outnumber those of Arvind Kejriwal. In fact, news articles that make any mention of Arvind Kejriwal tends to attract hundreds of negative comments, often in a few minutes.
The negative comments also often get hundreds of ‘likes’ as well.
Similarly, pro-Modi comments tend to get hundreds of likes.
As such, it was assumed that among Internet-savvy Indians, Modi was more popular than Kejriwal. However, Time’s poll has surprised observers.
Some even question whether Time is pushing an agenda by showing such a ‘biased’ vote in favor of Kejirwal. Allegations have been flying thick and fast that social media and commenting systems are being rigged by ‘call centers’ hired by all parties.
One of the key reason for the reversal may be that only ‘signed in’ social media users can vote in the Time poll, while on other platforms, even guest votes are counted.
It should be noted that this time, Modi votes are much lower than what they were last year, when more than 5 lakhs votes were cast on Modi in the same poll.
This year’s voting is on till April 22 on TIME website.