The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Tuesday renamed and archived the official PMO Twitter handle, sparking a furore in political circles.
The PMO Twitter handle was changed from @PMOIndia to @PMOIndiaArchive, automatically transferring its content and 1.24 million followers to the new account.
The @PMOIndia account was reset for Narendra Modi and already has 7,000 followers. So far, the handle has no profile, biodata or photo. Incidentally, Modi’s personal Twitter handle has over 4.2 million followers.
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Pankaj Pachauri, Media Adviser to the outgoing PM Manmohan Singh, said the account was reset to facilitate the handover to the new dispensation and ensure requirements of the RTI Act are met.
Claiming that official procedure was followed, Pachauri told The Indian Express, “If we had archived the outgoing PMO’s tweets, they would ultimately be removed from the system over time. We spoke to Twitter and surrendered the old account. The move was made to facilitate the handover; instead, we are being criticised. Instead of celebrating their victory, why are they focusing on this small official procedure?” Pachauri said.
In a statement, the PMO said, “All official communications from PMO in print and in digital form are being archived according to RTI Act. Copyrights and control remain with the PMO. The handover is being facilitated for the next administration. This is the first time such handover is taking place, leading to speculation.”
However, the BJP was quick to react. BJP spokesperson and MP Meenakshi Lekhi said, “It is disgraceful, unethical and illegal in the way the outgoing team handling the @PMOIndia Twitter has conducted the transition of this national digital asset.”
J&K CM Omar Abdullah tweeted, “How churlish!!! Just hand over the twitter account. It’s not like Dr Manmohan Singh was actually using it himself or will use it much now.”
BJP’s IT cell convenor Arvind Gupta said, “The correct procedure should have been to archive old tweets and let the same handle continue. Now you have a dead account with no following on PMO handle, which signals to the world that we do not have continuity of government.”