The Congress party on Thursday sought suspension of Twitter handles of BJP president JP Nadda, Union minister Smriti Irani, and BJP leaders Sambit Patra and BL Santosh over the 'toolkit' issue. All India Congress Committee (AICC) Research Department Chairman Rajeev Gowda and Congress' Social Media Department Chairman Rohan Gupta has written a letter to Twitter.
"We've formally written to @Twitter seeking suspension of Twitter accounts of BJP leaders who are indulging in spreading forged documents attributing to Congress," tweeted Gupta. "While an FIR has already been lodged, the independent fact-checkers too have blown the lid off BJP's propaganda," he added.
In the letter, the Congress has accused the BJP of "grossly misusing" the microblogging website and said this has led to "large-scale dissemination of false information and has the potential to cause social unrest in the country, amidst the pandemic".
The Congress has further requested to immediate remove the tweets by the BJP leaders. "Also, you are requested to kindly carry out a detailed probe on the subject-matter and permanently suspend the Twitter accounts of the above-mentioned individuals, as the said persons are habitual of manufacturing forged content and misusing the Twitter platform for disseminating the same," the letter read.
On Tuesday, the Congress party had filed an FIR with the Delhi Police against the BJP leaders for "forging" AICCC letterhead and printing "false and fabricated content".
"Through the present complaint, we seek to register an FIR against Mr. J.P Nadda - President, BJP; Mr. Sambit Patra- National Spokesperson, BJP; Mrs. Smriti Irani - Union Minister, Gol; Mr. BL Santosh - General Secretary, BJP & other such persons for forging the letterhead of AICC Research Department and thereafter printing false and fabricated content on the same, in order to share the forged/ BJP manufactured document from their verified Twitter handles and other social media platforms, with the intent to create communal disharmony and civil unrest in the country among individuals, escalating violence, fueling hate and spreading fake news," Rajeev Gowda's letter to the Delhi Police Commissioner read.
"The hidden agenda of this team of fraudsters was to divert the attention from the Modi Government’s mammoth failure in providing necessary aid to the people of India, amidst the current pandemic," it added.
The Congress' students wing, NSUI, had also on Wednesday lodged an FIR in Raipur against former Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh and BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra over the 'toolkit issue'. The case was registered under IPC sections 469 (forgery for purpose of harming reputation), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 505(1)(b) (circulating rumour or report with intent to cause fear or alarm).
What is the 'toolkit' issue?
On Tuesday, several BJP leaders took to Twitter and shared two documents. The first was a 'toolkit', which they claimed to be made by the Congress party to tarnish the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Centre amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The second was a document on the Central Vista Project.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said according to the document, it is clear that the Congress extending help to the needy during the pandemic is "more of a public relations exercise with the help of friendly journalists and influencers than a soulful endeavour".
Patra alleged that the 'toolkit' has instructions for social media volenteers of Congress to call the new COVID-19 mutant as "Indian strain" or "Modi strain".
"Today, there is a toolkit going rounds in media by Congress on COVID-19 pandemic. Through this toolkit, the country can see that how Congress is trying to strengthen its political ambitions when the country is in the midst of a health crisis. Congress is trying to defame the government of India, and thousands of people who are doing good work," Patra said.
He said there is a column in the 'toolkit' on "Prime Minister Narendra Modi's image", and under that there are instructions to "destroy his image and erode his popularity".
Patra further alleged that the toolkit has instructions to use "international media coverage by foreign correspondent in India that can be tailored to exclusively focus on Modi and his mismanagement", and "liaison with these foreign journalists and Indian oped writers in foreign publications and brief them on talking points." He said it also has instructions to "use dramatic pictures of funerals and dead bodies which is already being done by foreign media" and facilitate journalist by "local cadre in various districts to get the images".
Later, the Congress party said the document on Central Vista Project was authentic, however, the 'toolkit' was fake.