TMC anticipates spurt in fake news ahead of Bengal polls, draws a counter

TMC fears that appointment of Amit Malviya, BJP’s IT Cell chief as the co-incharge for Bengal ahead of assembly elections indicates the BJP will be aggressive on social media.
Mamata Banerjee has directed the Kolkata Police and West Bengal Police to strengthen their cyber-crime cells to fight fake news among others.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Mamata Banerjee has directed the Kolkata Police and West Bengal Police to strengthen their cyber-crime cells to fight fake news among others.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Updated on Nov 18, 2020 08:10 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Kolkata | ByHT Correspondent | Edited by Abhinav Sahay

Apprehending that fake news could be spread through social media platforms to project the Mamata Banerjee administration in a bad light ahead of the crucial Bengal assembly election 2021, the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress has charted a plan to fight such attempts with facts.

“In the next few months, you will certainly hear a lot of fake news being circulated in our state. We would be putting out facts to bust fake news. We will try to do this often in the weeks and months ahead,” said Sashi Panja, state minister and TMC MLA.

The apprehension is all the more because the BJP has recently appointed Amit Malviya, head of the party’s IT cell as the co-incharge for West Bengal ahead of the 2021 elections.

On Tuesday, Sashi Panja, state’s women and child development minister, put out various facts on how the TMC-led government has attempted to empower women with its various schemes and projects over the past one decade, including setting up 48 women police stations, issuing smart cards for women and boosting institutional deliveries.

This is, however, not the first time that the TMC has raised apprehensions of fake news being circulated on social media.

Just before the Durga Puja, a few persons were arrested for posting fake news on social media saying that the state government has imposed several restrictions during the festive season. The incident had prompted chief minister Mamata Banerjee to direct the Kolkata Police and West Bengal Police to strengthen their cyber-crime cells to tackle complaints of cybercrime at highest priority.

Also Read: Leave no booth unattended: BJP’s Bengal polls strategy aims to replicate 2019 formula

During the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and polls in four state assemblies, the election commission of India (ECI) spotted more than 154 instances of fake news or misinformation on social media platforms.

“The apprehension is all the more because the BJP seems to be focusing on social media this time. The party’s IT cell chief, Amit Malviya, has been recently appointed as the co-incharge of West Bengal ahead of the elections,” said a TMC leader.

Also Read: TMC MLAs question Prashant Kishor; rebel says Mamata Banerjee no more in control

In West Bengal, just before the Lok Sabha polls, an entire page of a vernacular daily was photo-shopped to spread fake news in which Mamata Banerjee was quoted saying that she would show how to make Hindus cry if she wins all 42 seats in the state.

“Anyone can move court if they think that the BJP is involved in spreading fake news. Why are they afraid of social media? Instead of booking the guilty as per the IT act, the person is being booked under arms act and NDPS act. They are actually not being able to counter the BJP. That’s why they are doing such things,” said Dilip Ghosh, president of West Bengal BJP.

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Friday, December 03, 2021