Food delivery app Swiggy recently stoked controversy by responding to a troll account taking an extreme political side. The controversy erupted after a far-left troll account had tweeted a hypothetical argument with a ‘Bhakt’ friend. Responding to the tweet, Swiggy decided that it would be good for their brand to join a troll account in mocking ‘Bhakts’ – a label often used by left-liberals to target Hindus and BJP supporters.
The tweet by the troll read, “Had an argument with my Bhakt friend over farmers protest. He said that we are not dependent on farmers for food. We can always order food from Swiggy. He won”.
Swiggy, through its official Twitter account joined the bandwagon and responded to the troll saying, “sorry, we can’t refund education”.
The tweet by Swiggy led to uproar across social media platforms. Several Netizens expressed displeasure saying that the tweet was derogatory. After Swiggy had decided to take a distinct political stand, Netizens also threatened to boycott the food delivery app.
For a food delivery app to wade into political mudslinging was rather inexplicable since it could only hurt their clientele. The marketing strategy, if at all it was that, was suicidal at best. To under the stand taken by Swiggy, social media user Vijay Patel started looking for which marketing agency handles business by Swiggy. He found, that it was a company called ‘Webchutney’ that had partnered with Swiggy and their antecedents explained why Swiggy chose to tweet what it did.
Vijay Patel discovered how the marketing agency, Webchutney, pushes its political and ideological agenda through its clients such as Swiggy.
Webchutney CEO and his own political bias
According to Patel, Webchutney handles social media marketing of Swiggy. Trying to understand the political bias, Patel delved into the nature of some tweets by the Chairman of Webchutney – Sidharth Rao.
It turns out that Rao himself has a distinct political bias and often takes to Twitter to mock and berate not just BJP supporters but also Hindus in general, or by extension.
Recently, Rao had liked a tweet posted by self-proclaimed ‘fact-checking’ website AltNews‘ founder Pratik Sinha. Pratik Sinha, who has a history of spreading fake news, had taken a sly at Hindus for believing in what he called a ‘dysfunction religious system’. Rao agreeing to his views promptly liked the tweet.
Rao had also shared a tweet by controversial moviemaker Anubhav Sinha that took a sly on Hindus. It is pertinent to note that Sinha has a history displaying Hinduphobia. In fact, it is pertinent to note that he was an important part of the anti-CAA protests that led to the Delhi anti-Hindu riots. In the past, he had also tried to whitewash Kashmiri terrorists by claiming that the ‘Azadi’ slogan did not originate in the state. Further, in his movie ‘Article 15’, Sinha had indulged in blatant Hinduphobia by including anti-Brahmin propaganda.
Netizens argued that any individual in the country is entitled to his views on social media, be it political or ideological and it is not even an issue if Sidharth Rao was expressing his anti-Modi bias on social media platforms. However, Rao and his company Webchutney seems to have crossed the line by putting out their political ideals on social media via the platform of its clients, the netizens said.
Creative head follows his boss, displays his anti-Modi bias
Not just the chairman, but others from the Webchutney team seem to have a pronounced political bias that has now crept into their work and working actively to take down brads like Swiggy with them.
Responding to a tweet by PTI informing that PM Modi had announced a week-long campaign from August 8 to 15 to free India or garbage, Sanket in his tweet had asked, “where will the Bhakts go?”. Sanket, who thought his joke was funny, was referring to Bhakts as ‘garbage’.
In another tweet, Sanket was caught mocking Ram Janmabhoomi Trust chairman, who had tested positive for the coronavirus just a week after he had shared the stage with PM Modi during the ‘Bhoomi Pujan’ event of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.
There were plenty of tweets by Sanket that displayed his staggering bias. In one, he invokes the Gujarat 2002 riots, which was a trope that expired in 2014 itself. Further, he retweeted a tweet claiming that the Prime Minister has control of the Judiciary.
Webchutney and its employees flee from social media platforms
After tweets of the CEO of Webchutney and its employees went viral, Webchutney not only locked its Twitter and Instagram accounts but also seems to have removed its Facebook account.
Ironically, the Webchutney Twitter profile, which wrote ‘bravest agencies on the planet’ in its Twitter bio, has locked its profile on Twitter so people who don’t follow them cannot view their tweets.
Interestingly, it is not just the account of Webchurney that has now been protected. The Twitter accounts of the company’s CEO and their employee Sanket has also been locked.
Webchutney embroiled in a MeToo controversy
Interestingly, the anti-Modi and anti-Hindu tweets are not the only things that define the marketing company. Webchutney was also embroiled in the MeToo controversy two years back. In 2018, Utsavi J, a former employee of the Webchutney had alleged that the then Creative Director of the company – Omkar Sane misbehaved with her. Sharing one of her bizarre experience with Omkar Sane, Utsavi had said that Sane had asked her whether her legs opened as wide as his.
As one of its employees caught involving in indecent behaviour, an embarrassed Webchutney had to fire its creative director for the misconduct.
Swiggy, Webchutney yet to respond
Two days after being caught pushing anti-Modi propaganda on social media, neither Swiggy nor its marketing agency Webchutney has responded to the ongoing controversy.
As private citizens, people are free to hold their political views, however, when those political views start defining a company that has nothing to do with politics, the company must come forward to explain.
OpIndia has emailed Swiggy and Webchutney for their response to this controversy. As soon as we receive a response, this article will be updated with it.