Why did BJP president Amit Shah and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley have to hold a press conference and show Narendra Modi’s degrees to India?

The job could have easily been done by one of the many spokespersons of the BJP, after all one just needed to show the ‘authentic’ degrees to the media. But why did the prime minister instead choose to send two of his most powerful and trusted lieutenants to do the job?

The answer is one that the Congress party – namely Sonia Gandhi and her son, Rahul – would love to hear. And in this case, the only one who can answer that question is not Modi, but Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

So here are three ways in which Kejriwal got under Modi’s skin and forced him to respond:

1. Nuisance has great value

Someone long deceased once said: “If one cannot command attention by one’s admirable qualities one can at least be a nuisance.” 

Kejriwal has clearly taken those words to heart. He badgers Modi incessantly… without pause; without mercy; with the determination that often seems to border on the maniacal. Sonia and Rahul seem mild in comparison.

The degree row only shows that how the topic needn’t even be of great importance. It is really saying things as a tabloid would. Just ask Donald Trump, it works.

Here’s a quick look at a cross section of Kejriwal’s tweets:

He’ll RT stuff too…

Nuisance value? Yes. But it is clearly working.

2. Small and nimble

The BJP press conference which presented Modi’s degrees to the media had just finished. AAP didn’t take long to strike back. With minutes of the BJP presser ending, AAP leader Ashutosh held a press conference and said Modi was ‘lying.’ 

The BJP would have left the press conference thinking that Shah and Jaitley have ended the controversy but even before they could settle down, AAP had struck back.

As Google’s Larry Page once said: “One of the primary goals I have is to get Google to be a big company that has the nimbleness and soul and passion and speed of a start-up.”

It is the perfect management lesson. BJP and the Congress are so big that it takes them ages to respond, AAP on the other hand — strikes hard, fast and like India TV at times. But it means that the news cycle almost always has the gun-slingers of AAP having the last word.

3. On social media, perception matters

“Twitter responds to popular perception and having the right perception can make a huge difference. At times, it is like a battleground and in this age, perceptions wins wars,” Khemchand Sharma, Delhi BJP’s social media in-charge, had recently told ScoopWhoop.

AAP understands this just as well. Asking questions in the Parliament — might get you the answer you want or you can walk out as a form of protest (which is what the Congress has been doing). But if you can get the question to trend on Twitter, Facebook and make it the talking point, you start influencing opinion. This is the AAP’s goal and if the Congress is serious about challenging the BJP, they need their leaders to step up too.

And to go back to another BJP IT Cell leader Paritosh Vyas: “To hell with mistakes. They happen on social media all the time. But after one day who will remember what was said. The most important thing at that point is to back our view.”

The Congress clearly has much to learn and all it needs to do is ask Kejriwal for a few lessons. Maybe then, they can get Modi at least to blink.