Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Monday said the State government’s intelligence department will conduct a probe into allegations that some celebrities were pressured by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to post identical tweets in support of the Central government over the farm laws.
Mr. Deshmukh made the remarks after a group of Congress leaders, led by party spokesperson Sachin Sawant, raised the demand for an investigation into the BJP’s alleged connection with the tweets, in a meeting via videoconferencing.
“The Congress delegation wanted to meet me regarding the ongoing farmers’ agitation. As I am COVID-19 positive, I accepted their letter digitally. They have raised serious questions. I have given directions to conduct the probe as per the procedure,” Mr. Deshmukh said.
After the virtual meeting, Mr. Sawant tweeted, “Demanded investigation of BJP connection into the tweets of celebrities & security to be provided to our national heroes if needed & find out whether these celebrities were arm-twisted by BJP.”
“Did some Indian celebrities respond to the tweets by international celebrities in support of farmers on the instructions of the Bharatiya Janata Party? And what kind of pressure did the BJP put on them? While there is huge pressure by the Modi government on people in constitutional bodies at the national level, Opposition-led governments, and those who speak against the Centre, it cannot be denied that the BJP pressured national heroes to tweet in favour of the government,” Mr. Sawant said.
BJP national president J.P. Nadda took a swipe at the Maharashtra government over the move. “MVA in Maharashtra has a unique model of governance – hail noises of anarchy from overseas who show India in poor light but harass patriotic Indians who stand for the nation. It is difficult to decide what is more flawed: their priorities or their mindset?” he tweeted.
Devendra Fadnavis, Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly, termed the move “disgusting and deplorable”. “Has this MVA Govt lost all its senses? MVA should feel ashamed while using the word ‘probe’ for BharatRatnas! Actually, now it seems necessary to probe the mental state & stability of the ones who made such demand & of people who ordered probe against our BharatRatnas!” he tweeted.
Mr. Sawant said that the BJP was misinterpreting the party’s demand. “Our demand is a probe against the BJP and its hand in planting these tweets and not against these celebrities. We have also demanded protection to these celebrities from the threat posed by the BJP,” he said.
“Why BJP is keeping mum on why tweets of Akshay Kumar and Saina Nehwal are matching with each other? Why Suniel Shetty tags his tweet to a BJP office-bearer? Why BJP is scared of probe?” Mr. Sawant tweeted.
The Congress spokesperson also said many of these celebrities had never posted political tweets before. “We want a probe as to whether they were politically pressured,” he said. Mr. Sawant added that everyone has a constitutional right to express their personal opinion, but if it is done under pressure, then it must be probed.