The Twitter universe, on May 20, erupted in controversy over the Prime Minister Office’s Twitter handle. Twitteratis discovered the PMO’s official handle @PMOIndia had been renamed as @PMOIndiaArchive and a new handle @PMOIndia was created for the office of the next Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The entire lot of 4,506 tweets and 1.24 million followers, since the creation of the handle, was no longer available with the PMO's new official twitter handle.
BJP supporters, as well as neutral commentators, criticised this move. Shashi Shekhar, digital officer at Niti Central tweeted, “Imagine the world leaders who find themselves following an archive and not the prime minister of India. Monumental goofup by PMO handlers.” (sic)
What further infuriated a lot of Twitter users was the discovery that for a brief while, the PMO did not even take ownership of the original handle @PMOIndia which was picked up by a Lucknow resident, Qaisar Ali.
“By renaming @PMOIndia, it showed the world, for a while, India didn't have a prime minister's office, there was lack in continuity,” says Arvind Gupta, BJP's IT-Cell head.
Ali, on his part has apologised for squatting on the handle and has clarified that he had no ill-intentions.
PMO was quick to rectify its mistake. Now, both the handles are under its control and archived under the Right to Information act (RTI).
Outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's media advisor Pankaj Pachauri, who also managed the PMO twitter account issued a clarification. "All our official communications are being archived according to the RTI Act. Copyrights and control remain with the office. This is an office account and the office continues to manage it. The handover is being facilitated."
Twitter India refused to comment on the issue.
Prime Minister designate Narendra Modi has been known to be social media savvy. After his landmark win in Lok Sabha elections 2014, Modi used the micro-blogging site to thank many national and international leaders. In fact, key world leaders including British Prime Minister David Cameron and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took to social media to convey their wishes to the new leader of the world's largest democracy.
Read the tweets below:
Imagine the World Leaders who find themselves following an Archive and not the Prime Minister of India. Monumentsl goofup by PMO handlers
— Shashi Shekhar (@offstumped) May 20, 2014
— Qaiser ali (@iamqaiserali) May 20, 2014