Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Monday claimed that his earlier statement, on the probe in tweets of celebrities in response to international celebrities over agriculture laws, “was distorted”. On February 8, he had said that the Maharashtra government’s intelligence department will conduct a probe into allegations some celebrities were pressurised to post tweets with regard to the farmers’ protest.
In his statement on Monday, Deshmukh said that in his previous statement he had spoken about an investigation on the IT cell of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). “My statement was distorted. I said BJP’s IT cell should be investigated, BJP’s IT cell chief and names of 12 influencers have come out in probe,” said Deshmukh. He added, “Lata Mangeshkar is like God to us and Indians respect Sachin Tendulkar. There is no question of investigating their tweet.”
On February 8, Deshmukh had made the remarks on an online platform after the Congress, a ruling coalition ally in Maharashtra, sought an investigation into the BJP’s alleged connection with recent tweets of some celebrities on the ongoing farm protest and to find out whether the saffron party “arm-twisted” them in posting those statements which were deemed pro-Centre.
Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant and some other party leaders had raised the demand for a probe into tweets before Deshmukh in a meeting via video conference.
A number of prominent personalities, including cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar and legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar, recently rallied around the central government on social media using hashtags #IndiaTogether and #IndiaAgainstPropaganda. This came after tweets by American pop star Rihanna and climate activist Greta Thunberg backing farmers who are protesting near Delhi’s border points against the Centre’s three new farm laws.
After the virtual meeting with Deshmukh, Sawant in a tweet had said, “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.” Responding to the demand, Deshmukh had said the objection of the Congress leaders is in connection with the timing of the tweets and whether they were issued under pressure.
Deshmukh noted the tweets posted by badminton star Saina Nehwal and Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar were similar. Congress’s question is whether they (celebrities) were forced to issue tweets of the same kind simultaneously, the home minister had said. Taking to Twitter later, Deshmukh had said those felicitated with the Bharat Ratna (Tendulkar and Mangeshkar are recipients of India’s highest civilian award) are respectable to all.
The NCP minister, however, had added that the Congress has demanded a probe whether any BJP leader pressurised them (the Bharat Ratna awardees) into posting the tweets in question.
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