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Lucknow boy's twitter hour of fame

Wednesday, 21 May 2014 - 6:30am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA
Did @PMOIndia just take away 1.24 million followers from Narendra Modi?

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.

He said he was randomly changing the username of my twitter account when he checked for the availability of twitter handle Pmoindia. "To my utter surprise it was available, so I just saved it as my twitter handle. I also tweeted about it. Like any other 19-year-old boy I was also shocked and honoured to have the ex-PM's twitter handle.

Suddenly after half an hour my previous username was back automatically and the pmoindia username was taken away. I do not know who took the username. I have also apologised for it to the people and to the ex-PM on twitter. I have also apologized to Pankaj Pachauri also.

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, Modi used the micro-blogging site to thank many national and international leaders. In fact, key world leaders including UK 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.


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