New Delhi: Unlike the Twitter handles of union ministers Sushma Swaraj and Suresh Prabhu, which are a two-way street and often evoke prompt responses when citizens tweet their grievances, the handle of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all about one way communication, a query filed under the Right to Information Act has revealed.
According to RTI activist and lawyer Dev Ashish Bhattacharya, he was shocked to learn that “the dream of digital India of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being demolished in his own PMO.”
PMO uses Twitter handles to only disseminate information
In its response to his query, the chief public information officer at PMO informed Bhattacharya that the office “uses the Twitter handle to disseminate news on Prime Minister’s travels, speeches and various updates received from various ministries and/or departments.” It added that the Twitter handle of the PMO does not deal with any complaints and for that various other platforms were in place.
Bhattacharya said he decided to file a query about the Twitter handle when he realised that there was no response from the @pmoindia and @narendramodi handles even though he had repeatedly tagged them them for a response to some of the issues dear to him.
Looping in @pmoindia and @narendramodi evoked no response
“I used to take in loop @pmoindia and @narendramodi in my tweets relating to various administrative lapses since long,” he said, adding that he tagged them because he had a “nice experience” with respect to the Twitter handles @sureshprabhu and @sushmaswaraj as whenever he “looped in them for any query the response came at once”.
But in the case of the PMO and Modi, the activist was left disappointed. However, he did not give up and decided to get to the root of the problem.When he did not receive any response from the PMO about several tweets of his on various issues sent to @pmoindia and @narendramodi, he filed an RTI application on May 3, 2017 with the chief public information officer at PMO.
Bhattacharya asked details about the officers in the PMO who monitor the Twitter handle of PMO and Narendra Modi; the number of tweets received by these handles in the previous 15 days; and the action taken on the tweets sent by him from his Twitter handle @rtidab.
Though on June 7, the CPIO responded saying the RTI application was being processed and the information would be sent soon, when he did not get a reply till July end, Bhattacharya filed a first appeal with the First Appellate Authority of the PMO which directed the CPIO to release the information within 15 days.
@narendramodi not maintained by PMO, GoI
Finally, on October 13, the PMO responded saying that the Twitter handle of the Prime Minister – @narendramodi – was not maintained by the PMO or Government of India.
The CPIO said the official twitter handle of the PMO was @pmoindia and considering the scale and scope of the content involved there was no designated officer in the PMO who handled the office’s social media presence.
The PMO further clarified that the concerned officer dealing with the subject provided the inputs. It added that PMO primarily uses the Twitter handle to disseminate news on Prime Minister’s travels, speeches and various updates received from various ministries and/or departments.
Finally, it said the Twitter handle of the PMO does not deal with any complaints and for that various other platforms were in place.
Reacting to the information, the activist said: “The PMO is, it seems, knowingly creating a one way conversation through the Twitter handle of the Prime Minister and PMO so that the PMO and the Prime Minister remain out of touch from the sentiments of the citizens of India