Congress Calls for ‘Manipulated Media’ Tag on 11 Ministers’ Tweets
Without revealing details of the Twitter row, Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday, had tweeted, “Truth remains unafraid.”
Congress General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala wrote a letter to micro-blogging platform Twitter urging the company to affix the ‘manipulated media’ tag to the tweets of Union ministers in the Modi government for “spreading false and malicious propaganda”.
Surjewala highlighted that since BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra’s tweet with the ‘forged and fabricated’ material has already been marked as ‘manipulated media’ by Twitter and the same material was being shared by other ministers, Twitter ought to affix the same tag.
In his letter, Surjewala listed the names and links to the tweets of several BJP ministers, including Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Smriti Irani, Minister of Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad, Prahlad Joshi, Dharmendra Pradhan, Ramesh Pokhriyal, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Thawarchand Gehlot and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
Surjewala added, “It is also a matter of fact that people tend to believe ‘true’ and take on face value any information that is put up directly by Union Ministers of the Government of India through his or her official/verified Twitter account.”
In what is being called as ‘reverse investigation’ by the Congress party, the Delhi Police Special Cell issued notices to Congress leaders, including Congress social media head Rohan Gupta and the party spokesperson MV Rajeev Gowda, who had filed complaints against BJP’s Sambit Patra for sharing a ‘fake toolkit’ that he attributed to the Congress.
Gowda said, according to NDTV, “We have told the Delhi Police that our complaint is being investigated by Chhattisgarh and we shall pursue the matter there.”
These notices were sent a day after Delhi Police officers visited Twitter’s office in Delhi and Gurugram to serve notices in the same case. Twitter had flagged some posts by BJP leaders, including Patra’s on the toolkit – alleging a Congress plot to malign PM Modi – as “manipulated media”.
After Twitter tagged Patra’s tweet as ‘manipulated media’, the central government’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology made a strong objection to it.
Truth Remains Unafraid: Rahul Gandhi
Without revealing any detail of the Twitter row, Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday morning, said in a tweet, "Truth remains unafraid."
Referring to the Delhi police’s notices served to Twitter, Veteran Congress leader Kapil Sibal also tweeted, “When truth is bitter, rein in Twitter. Attack when you can’t defend!”
What Did Police Say?
“We served a notice on Twitter as we want to know what information Twitter has about the toolkit and why they chose to attach the ‘manipulated media’ label. Apart from Twitter, we have also served notices on the complainants, representatives of Congress, asking them to join the investigation to explain the whole sequence of events. We are also going to serve notices on BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, for questioning in the coming days,” a police officer told The Indian Express.
Delhi Police PRO Chinmoy Biswal told the newspaper this was “a part of a routine process”.
“This was necessitated as we wanted to ascertain who is the right person to serve a notice, as replies by Twitter India MD have been very ambiguous,” he said.
The Case So Far
Two days after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused the Indian National Congress (INC) of making a ‘toolkit’ targeting the government over its COVID handling, Twitter on Thursday, 20 May, tagged BJP National Spokesperson Sambit Patra’s tweet as “manipulated media”.
On Tuesday, 18 May, Patra had shared screenshots of the alleged “toolkit”, claiming that the Congress had created the document to “corner” Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his handling of the pandemic.
In an analysis, fact-checking organisation Alt News and The Quint’s WebQoof team had found errors and discrepancies in the alleged ‘toolkit’, which raised doubts on the authenticity of the document.
Speaking to The Quint, Chairman of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) research department and national spokesperson Rajeev Gowda said, “Someone forged a document by editing the genuine Central Vista document, which was prepared by the party.”
(With inputs from The Indian Express)
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