Cyberspace has become the new battleground and social media the new weapon for political parties engaged in a war of attrition over the PEB scam in Madhya Pradesh.
From barbs on microblogging site Twitter to “evidence” uploaded on websites and even anonymous mobile text messages, parties are trading charges and counter-charges regularly as the scam turned increasingly political in nature.
Over the past few weeks, the opposition Congress has stepped up the ante against the BJP government, even accusing chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his family-members of being involved in the examination and recruitment scam.
Chouhan has denied that he had anything to do with the scam, which has seen an FIR against governor Ramnaresh Yadav.
Two days ago, state-based journalists were flooded with a text message which gave the web address of a Facebook page. The message said the page had the “latest information” on the scam.
Later it emerged that the Facebook page was created by a BJP sympathiser to counter the Congress’ attack on the chief minister. BJP leaders said the party was not responsible for the page.
But there is no ambiguity in the Facebook page of Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh, who is in the forefront of the tirade against the chief minister and the ruling party.
Through regular posts, Singh tries to keep his “friends” updated on the scam, one of the biggest scandals to have rocked the state in recent times.
The Congress’ IT cell chief Dharmendra Vajpayee said political parties now had the tool to send across their views to a large number of people using electronic devices, especially smart phones.
"The Congress’ experience in previous Lok Sabha and assembly elections is that we need to satiate the appetite of youth for information through social media," Vajpayee added.
Both Chouhan and Singh are also very active on Twitter, constantly engaged in attacks and counter-attacks on each other over the scam.
In one such post from his official handle @digvijaya_28, Singh said, "As an elder brother I am giving advice, to follow it or not is your choice. Keep family-members away and keep away from corrupt friends and bureaucrats."
The chief minister responded by a Tweet from his own handle, @ChouhanShivraj: "Disappointment awaits those who are making allegations against me. Misleading and fabricated stories cannot be sold as evidence for long."
"Social media is something the youth is cued into. As a party we have always made efforts to reach out to the youth through their desired medium," said BJP spokesperson Vishwas Sarang.