Govt hired the social media firm for EC campaign during Maharashtra elections, says state poll chief amid allegations of BJP IT cell link
State chief electoral officer in his interim report clarified that the social media agency was not hired by them but the publicity department of the state government.
MUMBAI: Amid allegations of the state election commission using a BJP IT cell-owned social media firm during the 2019 state Maharashtra state assembly election, the state chief electoral officer (CEO) in his interim report clarified that the social media agency was not hired by them but the publicity department of the state government.
The report of the CEO of the state election commission said that they are not authorized to hire any agency. “However, social media agencies are empanelled and hired by the state government’s Directorate General of Information and Public Relation (DGIPR) department. And the same firm allegedly linked to the election commission was provided by the state government’s DGIPR department,” stated the report. The report has been submitted to the election commission of India.
The former chief minister of Maharashtra Prithviraj Chavan had demanded a thorough inquiry in this case and said that this is the question of credibility and integrity of the election commission.
RTI and social activist Saket Gokhale said that the report of the state election commission clearly shows that the erstwhile chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had interfered in the independent election process. He tweeted, “CM @Dev_Fadnavis was surely aware that the firm had links to his own party’s IT cell. Why was Fadnavis trying to interfere in polls by appointing this firm? How did @SpokespersonECI (an independent body) allows the state govt/ruling party to appoint a firm for EC work?”
He further said that the scope of the work was not only limited the social media advertisements, but it has also authority for data targeting and neutralizing negative sentiments in the government notification dated October 12, 2017. “This is nothing but state-sponsored electoral fraud under Devendra Fadnavis. The election commission should also investigate the government DGIPR order and who executed it. Whether crucial electoral data was used by the BJP or not? All aspect has to be probed,” said Gokhale.