A day after former Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey claimed that the government threatened to shut the microblogging platform in the country if it failed to comply with its demands, Opposition leaders said his comments showed how democracy was being strangulated in India.
Dorsey, a co-founder of Twitter, made the comments in an interview with YouTube channel Breaking Points when asked to give examples of foreign governments putting pressure on Twitter to comply with their demands.
He said that the government made several requests pertaining to journalists who were critical of the government during the year-long farmers’ protest. The government threatened to shut down Twitter in India and raid the homes of its employees if the demands were not met, Dorsey said.
Union Minister of State for Electronics and Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar dismissed the claims as an outright lie.
However, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said at a press conference: “When the country’s farmers were fighting for their rights, Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi was trying to suppress their voice...Truth has a specialty about it – the harder you try to suppress it, the more strongly it reveals itself.”
For more than a year since November 2020, thousands of farmers protested against three agriculture laws that they feared would make them vulnerable to corporate exploitation. On December 1, 2021, the laws were repealed after President Ram Nath Kovind approved a Bill to that effect.
On Tuesday, other Opposition leaders also criticised the Centre in connection with Dorsey’s claims. Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) MP Sanjay Raut said the Twitter co-founder’s statement showed how democracy was being threatened, ANI reported.
“I have seen how the democracy of the country and freedom are under threat and how democracy is being strangulated behind the curtain,” Raut said. “This makes it clear.”
Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal said there was no reason why Dorsey would lie about the Indian government putting pressure on Twitter, according to ANI.
“There is no reason for Jack Dorsey to tell a lie that they threatened Twitter when the protests were going on, that they would shut their offices and raid the then Twitter employees,” he said. “...There is every reason for others to tell a lie because they can’t accept this.”
The Trinamool Congress made a reference to former Ugandan president Idi Amin’s statement: “There is freedom of speech, but I cannot guarantee freedom after speech.” It claimed that Modi had made this one of his guiding principles.
Aam Aadmi Party MP Raghav Chadha said that Dorsey’s allegations showed how the BJP attempted to crush every voice of dissent in the country. “The world sees us as a vibrant democracy, as the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Ambedkar,” he said. “It is a shame that BJP’s actions are bringing a bad name to our country.”