Hyderabad: Twitter was overrun on Monday with tweets in favour of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). It was a counter to the countrywide protests against this legislation and another possible move suspected to follow, the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The sudden surge in pro-CAA tweets and trending of this set was consequent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi launching a Twitter campaign to “educate” people about the CAA.
The way this instant popularity was achieved involved some questionable actions, purportedly by the BJP’s IT cell. The BJP’s IT cell “accidentally” leaked a “tweet bank” — a Google Drive folder containing readymade tweets for the BJP supporters to use in support of the CAA.
An ultimate easy content reference for pro-CAA activists, the folder contains nearly 100 tweets, links to articles arguing in favour of the CAA, edited videos calling out Opposition parties’ historical stance on protection of minorities in Pakistan and so on. The folder also contains edited videos of violence by protestors, ready to be shared on Twitter, Instagram as well as other social media platforms.
It also has posters quoting, possibly fictional, surveys about how Muslims of the country don’t understand the CAA, and lines of attacks to be unleashed against anti-CAA activists for protesting against the legislation. One of these posters depicts a protester, named Abdul, throwing a stone at a police van and UP CM Adityanath hitting it for a ‘sixer’ by auctioning Abdul’s property.
Interestingly, most of these posters have pictu-res of Mr Adityanath. One of them said that the pro-tests are a conspiracy by ‘rioters’, human rights act-ivists, journalists and lawyers (Prashant Bhushan, Kapil Sibal).
Another questions MIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, asking him to reply on the alleged involvement of a party worker in rioting in UP. “Who will answer for this Owaisi?”, it questions.
The ploy seems to have worked. By 8 pm, ‘#IndiaSupportsCAA” became the most popular hashtag on Twitter India. More than 8.5 lakh tweets during the day used this hashtag.
The content in this Google Drive folder seems to have been put together very meticulously. It has nearly 20 sub-folders, all of which contain documents related to subjects such as “Why Rohingyas should be deported”, “Pakistan’s failure to honour commitment to protect minorities” and “Atrocities against minorities”. These folders contain files with clippings of news reports from newspapers in India and Pakistan dating back decades.
It even has an FAQ section, which shows pro-CAA activists how the law can be defended, based on the opinions of prominent lawyer Harish Salve, who has won two major cases against Pakistan in the International Court of Justice in Hague, Netherlands.
The piece de résistance, of course, was the ‘tweet bank’ itself. It had nearly 60 tweets in Hindi and around 25 in English, other than readymade tweets under the banner “CAA simplified: Spread facts not myth”. All these tweets seemed to be saying the same thing, but were written slightly differently. “The CAA does justice to those who were denied for decades,” read one, while another read, “No Indian needs to fear CAA and NRC”.
One of the tweets is a quote of former President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, in a scathing attack against Pakistan for its failure to protect minorities.
Interestingly, when PM Modi launched his campaign, a few tweets and posters were made available on the official ‘Namo App’. All of the content available in the app is also present in the ‘tweet bank’.
A city-based former BJP activist said the party’s IT cell seems to have pulled out all the stops.
“This is not new. For over six years, since 2013, BJP’s IT cell has sent out readymade tweets and posters for activists to copy and paste from. It is not a secret and has been exposed by many media outlets in the past. But they at least kept it silent and did not let it spread so easily. But today, they took no precaution. The tweet bank is available all over Twitter. They seem to be desperate,” he said.