BJP social media head says party never encouraged trolling

Jayadevan PK December 28, 2016

Arvind Gupta, who leads the Bhartiya Janta Party’s social media and technology efforts, has responded to allegations that he led and encouraged a ‘troll army’ against detractors of the ruling party.

On Wednesday, Gupta, who says he’s currently overseas, Tweeted:

6 tweets to set record straight.

1. Sadhavi Khosla sought to work for BJP for Punjab polls. On being refused she joined Congress campaign

2. Sadhavi Khosla has not been part of any BJP IT/social media cell. Any such claim is false, scurrilous and self promotion

3. BJP or its ITCell have never encouraged trolling. Internet support for BJP is an organic, bottom-up mass movement and a voluntary connect

4. No proof has been presented, apart from a supposed Whatsapp forward, of an Internet causes petition. The story has been left hanging. Why?

5. The reason is obvious. A half-baked story is being used to sell a third-baked book by a quarter-baked journalist cum fiction writer

6 Having said that, I believe a call for a peaceful economic boycott is a legitimate expression of free speech. History offers many examples

Yesterday, Delhi-based journalist Swati Chaturvedi’s new book I Am a Troll: Inside the Secret World of the BJP’s Digital Army, was released. In the book, she alleged that Arvind Gupta, National Head, Information Technology Department of the BJP, and others orchestrated online smear campaigns against people who were seen as anti-BJP. Read our interview with Swati Chaturvedi.)

According to Chaturvedi, the book is based on over two years of research and interviews with more than 30 “trolls.” One of the key people cited in the book is Sadhavi Khosla, who, according to the book was a former member of the media cell.