In a parting shot to its arch-rival National Democratic Alliance, the outgoing UPA Prime Minister’s Office refused to hand over the @PMOIndia Twitter handle as it was, choosing instead to migrate the account to a new handle, leaving the incoming government with the task of setting up one from scratch.
The @PMOIndia account used by Manmohan Singh had 1.2million followers and over 4,000 tweets.
The move was made by Manmohan Singh’s official communication adviser Pankaj Pachauri, who decided to archive the old account to comply with the Right To Information (RTI) Act.
“Read the RTI Act – all communication should remain in public domain for perpetuity,” Pachauri told Hindustan Times. “The official account has been surrendered to Twitter and all other communication has been archived under the provisions of the RTI Act,” he said.
“This gives the next administration the flexibility of choosing the same name or start with a new handle. We are being thoughtful,” he added.
Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi’s IT team, however, was not impressed. The new @PMOIndia handle had started gathering followers on Tuesday, reaching almost 5,000 followers by evening, but a far cry from the million plus figure of the old one.
"This is a national asset and not someone's private property. They are being petty and shouldn't have archived it," said Arvind Gupta, the head of the BJP's IT cell.
Another senior member of the BJP’s IT team said, “Once a digital asset is created by the PMO, it is a national asset. It cannot be dealt with in such an arbitrary manner and we have taken this up with Twitter and the PMO”.
When contacted, Twitter India’s official spokesperson said that “we don’t comment on individual accounts.”