Twitter summoned to Indian Parliament over alleged anti-BJP bias

Bharatiya Janata Party spokesman Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga accused Twitter of shutting down pro-BJP and right-wing accounts. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI (DPA) - Representatives of Twitter have been summoned to appear before an Indian parliamentary panel following complaints that the platform is biased against pro-ruling party and right-wing content.

The announced was posted on Twitter late on Tuesday (Feb 5) by Mr Anurag Thakur, the head of the Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology and a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

BJP spokesman Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, who recently organised a protest in relation to the issue, on Wednesday accused Twitter of shutting down pro-BJP and right-wing accounts.

Committee member Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, also from the BJP, told broadcaster NDTV that the move was in response to complaints of a "partisan approach" and "ideological bias" by those managing content on Twitter.

Officials from Twitter will appear before the panel on Feb 11 to discuss "safeguarding citizens' rights on social/online news media platforms".

The panel would also examine a "range of issues", which include the problem of fake news ahead of India's general elections scheduled to take place by May, the Times of India daily reported.

A Twitter spokesperson said the company had no comment other than to confirm that "discussions with the government are ongoing".

Social media is playing an increasing important role during elections in India in recent years, with leaders including Modi commanding huge numbers of followers.

As many as 7 million tweets were generated during elections in five Indian states this winter, according to the micro-blogging site.

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