NEW DELHI: The Election Commission has sought a report from the Maharashtra Chief Election Officer (CEO) regarding allegations that the poll body hired a firm reportedly linked to the BJP IT cell for its social media promotions in the run-up to the last year’s Assembly elections.
EC spokesperson Sheyphali Sharan said details have been sought from the Maharashtra CEO regarding these allegations. “Regarding tweet of Mr Gokhale @SaketGokhale, Commission has sought detailed factual report in this matter from CEO Maharashtra with respect to alleged locale of the incidence immediately,” she tweeted.
Sharan was responding to a series of tweets posted by Saket Gokhale, an RTI activist. Through his tweets, Gokhale claimed the firm that was hired by the poll panel to handle its social media accounts in the run-up to the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly elections was the one hired by the BJP. The firm is also owned by a BJP leader, he claimed.
Gokhale pointed out that address of the social media advertisements posted by the Maharashtra CEO was ‘202 Pressman House, Vile Parle, Mumbai’. He claimed this was the address of Signpost India, a government-empanelled agency with close ties to former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. “The address 202 Pressman House was also used by a digital agency called Social Central.
This agency is owned by Devang Dave who is the national convener of IT and social media for BJP’s Youth Wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM),” Gokhale tweeted. Meanwhile, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh ordered an inquiry into an incident in which some alleged right-wing workers threatened Gokhale’s mother. “We are taking very serious cognisance of this and have ordered an enquiry.”
EX-CM’s tough questions to poll panel
Senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan said the latest episode puts a question on credibility and integrity of independent institutions like the Election Commission. “The BJP used this EC data through this agency to target the various groups. This murky involvement raises several questions,” Chavan wrote to the EC.