Congress targets BJP over WhatsApp links

Congress targets BJP over WhatsApp links, demands JPC probe

Representative image. Credit: iStock

After Facebook, Congress on Saturday alleged that popular messaging service WhatsApp was controlled indirectly by the BJP and reiterated its demand for constituting a joint parliamentary committee to probe the “unholy intimacy”.

The fresh attack from the Congress came after the Time magazine claimed that a top WhatsApp official, Shivnath Thukral, used to operate websites and Facebook pages for the BJP before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Congress alleged that the WhatsApp was turning a blind eye to the BJP’s “hate speeches” on its platform as it was hopeful of launching its own payment platform.

The fresh allegations have set the stage for a stormy meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology on September 1, when officials from Facebook, which also owns WhatsApp, are expected to depose.

Congress and BJP leaders have been gathering ammunition to target each other over links to the officials in social networking companies to score points over political rivals.

BJP IT Cell chief Amit Malviya had claimed that his communications with Facebook and information on BKP leaders were leaked to Congress functionaries in gross violation of their privacy.

Congress leaders have been sharpening their knives with reports from the Wall Street Journal and the Time magazine to target the BJP, claiming proximity of Facebook officials to the ruling party.

“Can we turn a blind eye to an American firm trying to disrupt the communal harmony of our country and interfere in our election process. This is not a political issue and these are not allegations levelled by the Congress,” Praveen Chakravarthy, Chairman of the AICC Data Analytics Cell told reporters here.

AICC General Secretary K C Venugopal shot off another letter to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg asking him to reveal what steps it is planning to take to investigate these matters and draw a plan of action to “stem the rot in your India operation”.

“We will also be pursuing legislative and judicial actions in India to ensure that a foreign company cannot continue to cause social disharmony in our nation for the pursuit of private profits,” he said.

Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera sought an “exhaustive and unbiased investigation” by a JPC between the “unending links” of Facebook employees and the ruling establishment.

“The investigation must include how Facebook manipulated voter opinion, allowed hate speech and was oblivious to fake news, even when they were in clear violation of their regulations,” Khera said.

Khera also demanded that Whatsapp cannot be granted approvals for its payment operations until the inquiry is complete.