Is taxpayers' money being used for BJP's PR exercise, asks Congress

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New Delhi, Oct 25: The Congress on Tuesday asked Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad if an IT firm had been given a contract by government agency National Informatics Centre for BJP's 'online reputation management' and whether taxpayers' money was used being for it. The party also demanded "an impartial investigation" of the Gujarat-based firm - Silver Touch - and similar other companies who have obtained government contracts for social media to manage the personal Public Relations of Bharatiya Janata Party leaders. "Ravi Shankar Prasad made several false allegations and asked us about our trending. We want to ask a counter question based on media reports whereby it is alleged that a Gujarat-based IT firm is being utilized by the BJP for their Online Reputation Management," asked Congress spokesperson Sushmita Dev. "Is it the tax payers' money which is being used to pay and purchase tweets for their propaganda?" "Employees of an Ahmedabad-based IT firm - Silver Touch - who boast of being followed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi engage in a properly paid campaign posting templated tweets, trending pro-BJP hashtags and using 'cut-and-paste tweets' for 'crises management' and 'online reputation management of their leaders'," said Dev. Dev said: "Is this being funded by the tax payer's hard earned money? We the taxpayer, who are forced to pay various kinds of cesses and a high GST rate under the Modi regime are now being used to pay by the BJP for the online reputation management of the government." The party alleged that Silver Touch obtained contracts of at least 46 government websites, which also include developing apps for the Ministry of External Affairs. It also said the government of Gujarat is another big client - with at least 17 departments availing Silver Touch's services. "This is just the tip of the iceberg of this entire scam. We have seen how Union Ministers are constantly tweeting the same tweet. The crux of the scam is that there seems to be no written terms or condition or a tendering process while the said contracts was given to this specific firm," said Dev. "The NIC, the government's IT backbone, should be the key agency to implement such contracts. But it seems that NIC is being used without following proper norms without any tendering norms. Is NIC being used to trend pro BJP hashtags?" asked Dev. Prasad should spell out whether the NIC is being unscrupulously and illegally being used without following any norms to give contracts to single entities close to the BJP, she said.