By Prashant Kumar (IANS)
The social media attacks against people who criticise Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his governance policies are by and large organised by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), according to a senior leader of the Aam Aadmi Party.
The IT chief of AAP, Ankit Lal, says the BJP lets loose the trolls on internet through "direct and indirect" means. In cyber user parlance, trolls are those who disrupt conversation through abusive language or personal attacks, often inflammatory.
"The people who write against Modi critics are the ones who are closely followed by the prime minister himself or the accounts related to the Bharatiya Janata Party, which makes it clear who the attackers are," Ankit told IANS in an interview here.
"Ask anyone who has been hounded as to who the trouble makers are. There are screenshots available in public domain of the alleged hatemongers on various occasions," he added.
The comments come days after BJP IT chief Arvind Gupta told IANS that the frenzied reactions of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters on social media against anyone strongly critical of Modi were not organised by the party.
Ankit also alleged that the prime minister "meets and supports" people who are known "trouble-makers" and "hate-mongers" on the social media.
"The prime minister met so called social media activists, who in reality are not activists but known abusers who have on many occasions created problems with their social media activities," he said.
"Modi should not follow such people publicly otherwise it will imply that he is endorsing such action, which is a matter of concern," he added.
Asked if the Aam Aadmi party was the biggest challenge to the BJP on social media, Ankit said: "Well, their actions say so. Why otherwise would a party which has the government at the centre and various states pay so much attention to a party with only four members of parliament and a government in only one state?"
On the hashtag trending strategy adopted by the parties nowadays on the micro-blogging site Twitter, the 31-year-old AAP tech czar said: "As a party we stay away from counter trends and try and focus more on our own work. However, some supporters do participate with counter trending and it's more of a game of dominance that we have been playing well."
Hashtag trending is adopted by parties to dislodge a popular topic by creating something which will attract attention and then advising their followers to tweet on it.
Asked about the challenges on virtual media, Lal said getting rid of anti-social and unidentified people posting absurd comments and abuses on behalf of the party was one of the biggest challenges his team had.
"We make sure that people who were tweeting and abusing on our behalf are blocked and taken care of, which BJP didn't even care for," he said.
But the man behind the successful social media pages of AAP says that Facebbok and Twitter have reached a sort of saturation point which could lead to stagnation in the growth of the sites, adding the parties that are turning to the virtual media now would not be able to reap the benefits the early birds had.