Prime Minister Narendra Modi's official Twitter handle @PMOIndia came under the scanner recently for tweeting false information, and then deleting it.
During his Independence Day speech, Modi mentioned, among other achievements, that the village of Nagla Phatela near Delhi was fully electrified. “Out of 18,000 villages, more than 10,000 villages have been electrified,” he said, “The village of Nagla Fatela is only three hours from Delhi, but it took more than 70 years for it to get electricity. I have been told they are with us, watching this celebration of Independence Day.”
To correspond with what he said, the PMO handle posted a photo of a group of villagers watching Modi's Independence Day speech. One tweet read, “Nagla Phatela...close to the capital but took 70 long years for the village to be electrified. Things have changed now. #TransformingIndia”. The next one read, “People of Nagla Phatela watching the Independence Day celebrations for the first time. More power to them. :)”.
Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal added his own pictures and tweeted the same with equal gusto.
However, the villagers reacted saying that the images were not from their village, and that electrification had not been complete in the village yet. Red-faced, the @PMOIndia handle deleted the tweets five hours later.
Goyal, on the other hand, tried to make clarifications by saying that they received wrong information that the village was electrified. But the efforts were in vain, as the error was picked up by Twitterati to talk about Modi's false development. Many also wondered why the handle didn't issue a formal apology instead of deleting the tweet without a word.
Not the first time
In September 2015, the PMOIndia handle ran into a similar mess when Modi visited Bodh Gaya.
The official handle had reportedly tweeted, “I consider myself blessed to be visiting Bodh Gaya. After Pandit Nehru, this is the first time a PM will visit Bodh Gaya.”
Narendra Modi is certainly the First PM to have Deleted his Tweet about being First PM after Nehru to Visit Bodh Gaya— Joy (@Joydas) September 5, 2015
Factually, that wasn't the first time that a PM visited Bodh Gaya after Nehru. When this was pointed out by Twitterati, the PMO team clarified that they meant that after Nehru, it was the first time a PM attended the Buddhist Conference in Bodh Gaya. The tweet was soon deleted, but Twitter trolls had a gala time about it.
When torrential rains flooded Chennai in December 2015, the government's official Press Information Bureau's handle tweeted with an image of Modi surveying the flood-hit region from a helicopter. It turned out to be a morphed image, and was cause for much embarrassment for the government.
In a more recent instance, the government-initiated Startup India's twitter handle also made news when it retweeted two abusive tweets. The tweets were deleted and the agency handling the account was fired, according to Commerce and Industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman.