Elon Musk starts following Modi on Twitter, sparks speculation

Modi and Elon Musk pose for a photograph during former’s visit to TeslaMotors. [Photo: PIB]

Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk sparked a wave of speculation on Monday after he began following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter.

Some users were quick to assume the move might portend the decision to open a Tesla production line in India or enter the Indian market.

With over 87.7 million followers, Modi is also one of the most popular politicians on the network. Neither Musk nor Modi have commented on the CEO’s decision to follow.

Musk, who bought Twitter in October 2022, is himself the most followed person on the social media network. The billionaire has almost 134.4 million Twitter followers – a sizable portion of the social media’s 450-million-strong pool of active users. The businessman himself only follows 193 accounts.

Last year, New Delhi invited Tesla to India, where the nation’s transport minister, Nitin Gadkari, told journalists in May 2022 that the company could reap benefits if it started manufacturing electric vehicles there.

“Come to India, start manufacturing, India is a large market, they can export from India,” the minister said at that time. He also claimed that electric cars in India would soon cost less than petrol-fueled cars.

Musk responded later that month, saying that his company would not “put a manufacturing plant in any location where we are not allowed first to sell and service cars.”

Tesla has long been seeking lower Indian import taxes on electric cars, urging New Delhi to reduce the tariff rates on high-end cars to 40% instead — but the country has refused to offer the carmaker the tax breaks, instead encouraging it to manufacture vehicles locally.

In June, Indian Heavy Industries Minister Mahendra Nath Pandey said that his nation was not ready to “compromise” on its policies of self-reliance so Tesla would have to play by the rules if it wanted to come to India.

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