Govt’s official twitter accounts in wrong hands?
The recently reported India’s surgical strike on terror camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir has offered a new platform for Indian politicians to indulge in arguments, both on ground and online. Comments made by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and AAP chief Aravind Kejriwal on the surgical strike, criticizing BJP’s politics behind it, have shaped a string of arguments and counter-arguments among the leaders in the past week.
While social media divided on Kejriwal ’s appeal to release the video of strikes in order to deny Pakistan’s claims, most interesting response was from the Twitter handle of India Post, indeed an agency aligned to the central government. In line with the fierce attack of BJP leaders against Delhi Chief Minister, the India Post account tweeted: “You have failed us big time Mr Kejriwal, for you petty political gains you can become headlines for Pakistani press.” However, ‘realising’ the mistake, India Post soon deleted the tweet and issued an apology saying the account was hacked.
— Kejriwal Lies (@KejriLies) October 5, 2016
The act of India Post surprised many, while it has also raised questions over the role of such official accounts. Criticising India Post’s tweet, AAP IT head Ankit Lal had dismissed the India Post’s clarification as the “same old and lame excuse”. He also argued Union IT & Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to give a new phone to the “bhakt” who is being paid for running the departments Twitter handle.
It is indeed not the first time that a government Twitter handle has run into such ‘troubles’ and making apologies for that. In the last few months, the official twitter accounts including All India Radio, Delhi Police, Indian Railways and Startup India have published messages with political comments. While few of them directly pointed on opposition leaders of BJP, others retweeted many political comments, simply as any other individual account does. Most of the time, as usual, the accounts deleted the posts after apologising for the ‘error’. However, many critics believe that these incidents are not mere odd events, but part of a strategy.
Startup India, the official Twitter handle of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s project, retweeted hate messages targeting ‘anti-national’ journalists in July. The account, as usual, later apologised for the error. Citing the ‘error’, the Congress Spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi then said, “Getting India started on a hate driven agenda? Is @startupindia handle managed by the troll chief of BJP? Shameful.”
— Joy (@Joydas) July 26, 2016
In another incident in September, All India Radio News’ Twitter handle tweeted about Rahul Gandhi: “Why he get scared earlier? How became daring again. He should stick to comments. #RahulRattlesRSS”. The tweet was possibly mentioning Rahul’s statements on Gandhi’s murder. In response, party chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewela’s series of tweets targeted AIR and also questioned Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu over the handling of the account. He said: “All India Radio hurriedly deleted the outrageous tweet but caught red- handed sponsoring saffron propaganda.”
All India Radio hurriedly deleted the outrageous tweet but caught red- handed sponsoring saffron propaganda. pic.twitter.com/PkBygQr91u
— Randeep S Surjewala (@rssurjewala) September 1, 2016
As the mentioned are few of such ‘errors’, the incidents point to the suspicious operation of official social media accounts. Now the question would be that how long these hackers are going to control those accounts to put ‘political tweets’?