Under sharp attack, the Prime Minister's Office today said the twitter account @PMOIndia has been "secured" by the microblogging company and will be handed over to the new dispensation which will take over next week.
It said all internet-based platforms and communications will continue to remain under the administrative control and management of the PMO after the change of the government.
The existing material on Manmohan Singh will be separately available under a new account on Twitter, said the PMO statement issued in the wake of a controversy triggered by its decision to close down the PMO account ahead of Narendra Modi taking over as the Prime Minister.
"The Twitter account @PMOIndia has been secured by Twitter and they are assisting in the handover of the same to this office to be available to the incoming PMO administration along with its followers," the PMO said.
"All PMO internet-based platforms and communications therein will continue to remain under the administrative control and management of the PMO after the change–over of the government.
"The transfer of these digital assets to the incoming PMO administration has been arranged. The archiving process is underway so that all archived material can also be available to the public," it said.
The statement came a day after the PMO came under sharp attack from BJP over its decision to close down the official twitter handle.
BJP, whose government is set to assume office from next week, had termed the PMO's move as "illegal and disgraceful".
It said the original Twitter handle was a "national digital asset" and did not belong to Manmohan Singh.
It should have been handed over to the new dispensation as it was, the party said.
Twitter India declined to react on the issue. "We don't comment on individual accounts," its spokesperson said.
The PMO said it currently has four internet-based platforms which include its website pmindia.gov.in, Twitter handle @PMOlndiaArchive besides its Facebook and YouTube pages.
"Over the last two years, our engagement with general public has increased multi-fold due to social media outreach," it said.
The row erupted yesterday when the PMO Twitter handle was changed from @PMOIndia to @PMOIndiaArchive, automatically transferring its content and 1.24 million followers to the new account. Also an independent Twitter handle @PMOIndia appeared after the PMO relinquished it.
Justifying the move, Pankaj Pachauri, Communication Adviser to the outgoing PM Manmohan Singh, said yesterday, "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."
He had said they have done this to "facilitate" the handover of communication to the new administration.
The PMO also said last night that the tweets and the twitter accounts are "PMO properties and the Prime Minister's office continues to manage them."
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, who is himself an ardent user of the microblogging website, earlier today dismissed as a "storm in a twitter tea cup" the BJP's criticism over the PMO's step.
"PMOIndia handle will remain for the new PMO. Twitter authorities will give it to them. It is only the earlier tweets of the previous PM and the PMO that have been archived.
So I think the whole controversy is a storm in a twitter tea cup," he said.
A BJP's IT Cell official termed the whole affair "completely unwarranted". "They should have simply handed the handle to us like you pass on files and other official material to a new government," he said.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi also dismissed the twitter controvesy as a "storm in the teacup".
He said both the PMO and Twitter India have responded and the party has nothing further to add or subtract.
Noting that this is the first time post-twitter age that a transition is taking place, he said, "It appears to be a storm in the tea cup for the simple reason that all the actions show that contrary to the allegation all that has been nationalized as archival state property, there is no question of private property.
"The rest is a matter of practice and precedent which has to start with this time because this is the first time that outgoing PM in twitter era is handing over to an incoming PM but the Twitter India and the PMO are fully competent to deal with this question on the subject," Singhvi said.