#handlegate: Spat over Indian Prime Minister Twitter handle

This article is more than 12 months old

Twitter wars are often started by has-been celebrities or attention grabbing stars looking for publicity.

But yesterday, a Twitter spat erupted over the official Indian prime minister's account.

The Prime Minister's Office of Dr Manmohan Singh had tweeted using the handle @PMOindia over the course of the leadership.

Earlier this week, Dr Singh changed the handle of the official account to @PMOIndiaArchive, angering the incoming Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by newly elected prime minister Narendra Modi.

This means that Dr Singh is effectively taking away its 1.24 million followers to the archive account so the new prime minister would have to start from scratch. 


BJP has relied heavily on Twitter to garner support for the recent Indian elections with great success so party members have spoken up against the move.

A spokeswoman from the party tweeted her disapproval with the former PM's team.

Meanwhile, another BJP spokeswoman said: "The Twitter account @PMOIndia is a national digital asset. It is disgraceful, unethical and illegal the way the outgoing team has handled this account."

Responding to the controversy, Dr Singh's communications director Pankaj Pachauri said: "All our official communications are being archived according to the Right To Information Act. Copyrights and control remain with the office."

Inserting himself into this spat is a seemingly unassuming 19-year-old boy from Lucknow who was the prime minister of India (on Twitter) for 30 minutes.

Oblivious to the ongoing handle controversy, Mr Qaiser Ali felt like changing his handle and checked to see if @PMOIndia was available.

And it was - Mr Qaiser had just happened to sign up for it in the brief window the handle was available.

He soon apologised in a series of tweets.

Sources: Economic Times, Reuters, BBC, The Hindu, Indian Express






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