Rahul Gandhi accuses Twitter of interfering in India’s political process

New Delhi, Aug 13 (PTI): Days after the temporary suspension of his Twitter account, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday accused the microblogging giant of “interfering in the national political process” and said shutting down of his handle amounted to “attack on the country’s democratic structure”.
Intensifying the Congress offensive against Twitter, Gandhi, in a video statement on YouTube titled “Twitter’s dangerous game”, alleged that it was not a neutral and objective platform and was “beholden to the government.”
Questioning Twitter’s action, Gandhi said the company was denying millions of his followers the right to an opinion, which was unfair.
“It’s obvious now that Twitter is actually not a neutral, objective platform. It is a biased platform. It’s something that listens to what the government of the day says,” Gandhi alleged.
The Gandhi scion said Indians need to ask the question of whether companies “beholden to the government” could define their politics for them.
“By shutting down my Twitter they are interfering in our political process. A company is making its business define our politics. And as a politician I don’t like that,” Gandhi said.
Terming the temporary suspension as an “attack on the democratic structure of the country”, he said,” This is not an attack on Rahul Gandhi. This is not you know simply shutting Rahul Gandhi down. I have 19-20 million followers. You are denying them the right to an opinion. That’s what you are doing.”
Taking a swipe at Gandhi over the issue, the BJP said the Congress leader has been shown the door from the only place he was active and he should use the new social media rules enforced by the Modi government to restore the account.
Addressing a press conference, BJP MP and the party’s youth wing president Tejasvi Surya said the same Congress was crying hoarse and attacking the government when it framed the new rules to “empower” social media platform users.
Gandhi’s account was temporarily suspended by Twitter last week after the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) issued a notice to Twitter asking it to act against the Congress leader’s handle for tweeting pictures of the family of a minor victim of alleged rape and murder in Delhi last week.
The NCPCR had cited the juvenile justice law that mandates the privacy of minor victims.
Twitter later locked Gandhi’s account and several other handles belonging to party leaders including the official Congress handle for tweeting the same pictures as Gandhi.
Also on Friday, NCPCR wrote to Facebook and Instagram about violation of Indian laws on their platforms after Gandhi shared posts on these platforms “revealing identity of victims” of the family of the nine-year-old girl.
Gandhi has also shared an image saying “Digital Dadagiri nahi chalegi” on Instagram. He also shared his video message on Instagram.
Questioning Twitter’s neutrality, the Congress leader said, “As Indians, we have to ask the question: are we going to allow companies just because they are beholden to the Government of India to define our politics for us”.
He further queried, “Is that what this is going to come to? Or are we going to define our politics on our own? That’s the real question here.”
Twitter on Thursday said if a post is found to violate its rules and is not deleted by the account holder, the platform hides it behind a notice and the account remains locked until that tweet is removed or the appeal is successfully processed.
A Twitter spokesperson said the company’s rules are enforced judiciously and impartially for everyone in its service.
However, the former Congress chief alleged that suspension of his account is not only patently unfair, but it is also a breach of the idea that Twitter is a neutral platform. “For the investors, this is a very dangerous thing because taking sides in the political contest has repercussions for Twitter,” he said.
“Our democracy is under attack. We are not allowed to speak in Parliament. The media is controlled. And I thought there was a ray of light where we could put what we thought on Twitter. But obviously, that’s not the case,” Gandhi said a day after the Congress alleged that Twitter had not acted against similar posts by statutory commissions and BJP leaders.
Sharing Rahul Gandhi’s statement, AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra accused Twitter of interfering in the Indian political process.
“The most serious issue is that a company is interfering in the political process of this country for its business, is helping the government to suppress the voice of crores of people of India,” she said in a tweet in Hindi.

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