Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said he was “dismayed” by the White House unfollowing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind on Twitter.
The White House had reportedly started to follow Modi on Twitter on April 10. He and Kovind became the only world leaders followed by the official Twitter handle of the United States administration. However, earlier this week, the White House unfollowed all Indian handles, which also includes the Prime Minister’s Office and the Indian embassy in the United States.
“I’m dismayed by the ‘unfollowing’ of our president and prime minister by the White House,” Gandhi said in a tweet. “I urge the Ministry of External Affairs to take note.”
Meanwhile, the White House on Wednesday explained its Twitter handle “typically follows” the accounts of officials from host countries during a presidential trip for a brief period. This is done to retweet important messages in support of the visit, an unidentified official of the White House told PTI.
However, President Donald Trump’s visit to India was in February. The six Indian handles that the White House was following briefly were those of Kovind, Modi, the Prime Minister’s office, the Indian Embassy in the US, the US Embassy in India and the US Ambassador to India, Ken Juster.
As of Wednesday, the White House had 22 million followers.
It has traditionally been following 13 accounts including that of Trump and his official Twitter handle, the First Lady, the Vice President, the Second Lady, the new Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, the National Security Council and the former White House Press Secretary, Stephanie Grisham, among others.
On April 7, Trump had said that India had agreed to provide hydroxychloroquine to the United States, but if it did not do so, there could be “retaliation”. Hours after that, the Ministry of External Affairs rescinded the earlier ban and said India will export paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine in appropriate quantities to “nations who have been particularly badly affected” by the coronavirus pandemic. In response, Trump praised Modi and called him “terrific”. Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malarial drug believed by some to be effective against Covid-19 infections.