Rahul Gandhi’s temporary ban from the social networking site Twitter has upset the grand old party. While Congress had initially claimed Rahul Gandhi’s account was ‘suspended’, it tweeted a clarification some time later that he was temporarily locked out.
The account has been temporarily locked. https://t.co/MYqpC8OeIb— Congress (@INCIndia) August 7, 2021
News agency PTI, however, said that Rahul Gandhi’s account was not suspended. The spokesperson further added that when an account gets suspended, it is removed from a global view. On the contrary, Rahul Gandhi’s account was visible to all. The company said it “continues to be in service.”
Congress’ statement came after netizens questioned Rahul Gandhi’s silence on Neeraj Chopra’s winning gold medal at Olympics. Many wondered if it was his way of retaliating over name change of Khel Ratna Award which will now be given in name of legendary hockey player Major Dhyan Chand and not Rahul Gandhi’s father and former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi as earlier.
However, it now seems that Rahul Gandhi’s account was locked out temporarily over violation of POCSO (Protection of Children against Sexual Offences) Act. In a tweet last week, Rahul Gandhi had shared picture of the parents of the minor girl in Delhi who was allegedly raped and murdered. Thereby, he had ended up revealing the identity of the child and her parents, violating the law of the land. In response, the NCPCR (National Commission for Protection of Child Rights) had written to Twitter to remove the contentious tweet.
Subsequently, the tweet was removed. It is likely that because of this violation, Rahul Gandhi’s account was locked out.
Priyanka Gandhi’s post spreading misinformation removed
In December 2020, Facebook had flagged Rahul Gandhi’s sister and Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s post for spreading misinformation. She was forced to take down her Facebook post, which accused the Modi government of privatising Indian Railways by transferring its proprietorship to the Adani Group. While Priyanka Gandhi Vadra pulled down her tweet from Facebook, she continued to spread the same misleading news on Twitter.
Congress furious, demand apology from Twitter
However, this time, when Rahul Gandhi’s account is supposedly ‘locked out’ (it ranges from 12 hours to 7 days suspension but usually first violation is just about 12 hours) and Congress is not taking it lying down. Sources with the party tell us that the party has threatened that they will ask all Congress supporters and workers to quit the platform if the social networking giant does not publicly apologise for ‘wrongly suspending’ Rahul Gandhi’s account.
It is because of this, various Congress leaders have taken to sharing the same image that got Rahul Gandhi’s account locked out over violation of POCSO Act. In fact, a source close to Rahul Gandhi who is in the know of IT cell says that Rahul Gandhi’s account has been unlocked but the IT cell is not tweeting on his behalf to ‘send a message’. “They want Twitter to say that it was Modi government that somehow got Rahul Gandhi’s account locked out,” the source said.
While Congress is not expressing anger against Twitter officially out in open, sources say that the party has asked the company to issue a statement to media where they either blame the Modi government or issue regret for locking him out. That Rahul Gandhi not tweeting despite the ban being lifted is a signal to the social networking giant that he may leave the platform. And that the trending hashtag could be a pressure tactic, perhaps leading to even unofficial calls of leaving Twitter.
However, some people believe that all these behind the scenes manoverings are drama by Twitter India to appear neutral especially after its recent run-in with the government over new IT rules. “It is nothing but shadow boxing between Twitter and Congress. In fact, it is very likely Rahul Gandhi’s account is not even suspended,” an official in the MeiTY told OpIndia.