Reacting to allegations from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was buying fake "likes" for his official Facebook page, members of his team Thursday said the opposition was "scared".
The growing popularity of the chief minister on social media was causing the opposition to feel "scared", Gehlot's technical team said, attributing the "baseless allegations" to fear.
BJP spokesperson Jyoti Kiran said in a statement Tuesday that the chief minister's official Facebook page "Apka Mukhyamantri" (Your Chief Minister) had 1,69,077 likes till June 1. By June 30, the "likes" shot up to 2,14,639.
Jyoti Kiran said the page's "most popular city" feature showed that most of the followers were from Jaipur, initially. Later in the month, the city changed to Istanbul.
"Several Information Technology (IT) companies sell fake Facebook 'likes'. It is quite obvious, going by the sudden increase in likes on Gehlot's Facebook page, that unfair practices were involved. And why will people from Istanbul follow Gehlot," Jyoti Kiran asked.
However, the page's administration team issued a statement saying the BJP was making up the allegations without any technical knowledge.
"What the BJP is saying about the city is actually 'the city where most of the people talking about this page are from'. That has nothing to do with the 'likes'," the team said, in a statement.
"If someone wants to buy 'likes', he would buy them from his own state or country, not from some location abroad. It is also possible that just to defame the chief minister, the BJP indulged in unfair practices on his social media websites," the statement said.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's affection for online platforms to interact with people and popularise government schemes has been increasing, in tandem with the growing popularity of social networking websites in the state.
Gehlot is not only connecting with thousands of people through Facebook and Twitter, both of which he started in 2011, but has also started blogging.
Gehlot began his blog in April this year, putting up posts about his activities and also development works being carried out by his government.
As an estimate, there are about 25 lakh regular internet users in Rajasthan. A majority of them are on social media networking websites.
In his latest post on his blog (blog.ashokgehlot.in), Gehlot informed followers about his government's housing schemes for families that fall below poverty line (BPL).
Sources said Gehlot had increased his online presence also due to the Congress party resolving to use social media platforms to influence urban voters during the party's Chintan Shivir in Jaipur in January.