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‘Chaupals integral to campaigns’ — Twitter India clarifies after flak for Manoj Tiwari video

Twitter India receives criticism for posting Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari’s video where he criticised AAP for spending money on ‘self-promotion’.

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New Delhi: Ahead of the upcoming Delhi assembly elections on 8 February, Twitter India found itself in the middle of a controversy after its official handle tweeted a campaign video of BJP Delhi president Manoj Tiwari.

Twitter India shared the video with a hashtag — #ManojTiwarikiChaupal. In the video, Tiwari was shown attacking the Aam Aadmi Party and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on a range of issues, including air pollution and spending on advertisements.

The post by Twitter, which had in October 2019 announced a ban on political advertisements, received a lot of flak, with multiple users accusing the micro-blogging site of taking sides in the Delhi elections.

After intense criticism, Twitter India clarified in a post that the idea of chaupals was introduced by the microblogging site in January 2019, in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, and it aimed to encourage “dialogue” between political leaders and the electorate during poll campaigns.

It shared several posts, highlighting the concept of chaupals.

“Chaupals are integral to political campaigns in India, & starting with #LokSabhaElections2019 @TwitterIndia introduced #ChaupalOnTwitter to encourage dialogue with political leaders across the spectrum, bringing physical Chaupals to Twitter,” Twitter says in its pinned post.

Also read: ‘Poha is the new beef’ — Twitter reacts after Vijayvargia says how he caught ‘Bangladeshis’

Concept of chaupal

Twitter India put out a statement in March 2019 on #ChaupalonTwitter, where it noted, “A chaupal or town square, is the hub of community life in villages and small towns across India. Often, under a shade-giving tree, citizens gather with their local leaders to discuss common problems and come up with solutions.”

The social media platform said these chaupals are “integral” to India’s democratic process and therefore, it was bringing the “physical chaupal to the digital world”.

“Leaders invite participation via questions on Twitter using a custom hashtag,” it added.

Last year, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha president Hemant Soren among others, participated in these chaupals.

In October 2019, Twitter announced a ban on political advertisements. Sharing the decision, Twitter’s chief executive officer Jack Dorsey had posted that the platform believed “political message reach should be earned”.

Also read: ‘Zomato eats Uber’ — funny memes, witty one-liners on Twitter after food majors’ deal


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