For 15 minutes on Tuesday, Lucknow teenager Qaiser Ali was the proud owner of the Prime Minister's official Twitter handle. But his glory was short-lived as Twitter India swung into action and took away his rights from the account.
The official PMO handle, @PMOIndia, had been changed by the Prime Minister's communication advisor Pankaj Pachauri without the social media company being alerted. As a result of his changes, the official handle---Twitter's equivalent of a user identity --- was inadvertently made open to all.
Ali, an aspiring engineer, who tweets as @iamqaiserali, was looking for a better handle. He suddenly discovered that @PMOIndia was free and immediately adopted it.
Ali immediately announced on Twitter that he was now the proud owner of @PMOIndia.
"For a while I felt honoured to own the ex-PM's handle. Little did I know that I will be part of a big political row," Ali told HT.
According to PMO sources, Twitter India was in touch with Pachauri as soon as the May 16 general election results came out to ensure a smooth transition of the official account.
A representative of Twitter had met Pachauri last Saturday at a restaurant in Delhi's Hauz Khas village to discuss the formalities. Pachauri, however, was evasive, sources said, and insisted that he was already discussing the transition with a Twitter official based in San Francisco.
The US–based twitter official Pachauri claimed he was in touch with was in no position to deal with the issue and was away on leave.
"Pachauri acted unilaterally without discussing it with Twitter India or Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi's IT team," a senior PMO official told HT.
The @PMOIndia had been given the status of a verified account, and had over 1.2 million followers. If the account was handed over to Modi's team, it would have retained the followers and the over 4,000 tweets.
Ali said he had no clue how it happened and he was not contacted for explanation from any quarter for the goof up.
"It must be a coincidence that I applied for @PMOIndia username during the period as soon as the actual account was vacated and it was available," he said.
"I have also apologised for it to the people and to the ex-PM of India on his handle. I have also apologised to Pankaj Pachauri," said Ali, who wants to study Computer Sciences.
He has been scolded by his parents and asked not to give any further statements.
Ali is not new to social media. After passing class 12 last year, he is already working on two digital companies-including a social networking site 'Picxter'.