Maharashtra Congress has sought a probe by the state's intelligence department into the tweets posted by the Indian celebrities and sports stars in response to global criticism of the Centres' mishandling farmers' protest.
Maharashtra Congress's general secretary Sachin Sawant has sought the probe to find out if the celebrities and sports star, who tweeted about India's unity and sovereignty, were under some sort of pressure by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Sawant, in an interview with ANI news agency, said it was absurd the ministry of External Affairs issued a statement only when international pop star Rihanna wrote in favour of farmers on Twitter. Sawant doubted over the pattern the way celebrities like actor Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Sunil Shetty, and sports stars like Saina Nehwal tweeted.
"If an individual or a celebrity share their opinion on some issue there's no problem. They have full freedom to speak about any matter," Sawant said. However, he added, "The way some Bollywood actors and sportsperson tweeted on the same topic, same timings, looked like they were all scripted".
The Congress leader also questioned the timings and similarity in the languages of celebrities' tweets. A majority of the tweets had the word called "amicable", Sawant added. Raising further suspicion over the connection between the BJP and the celebrities' tweets, Sawant added that actor Sunil Shetty tagged Hitesh Jain, who is a BJP leader.
Sawant stated it is likely that some celebrities are under pressure just like in BCCI, where BJP's interference is palpable (Union Home Minister Amit Shah's son Jay Shah is the secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India since 2019).
"It needs to be investigated if there was any pressure from the BJP on these national heroes for such advocacy on the social media. If so, these celebrities need to be given more protection," Sawant said.
A host of prominent people from the Hindi film industry like Lata Mangeshkar, Ajay Devgn, and cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, among others took to Twitter on February 3 after international personalities such as Rihanna and climate change activist Greta Thunberg expressed their support for the ongoing farmers' protest in Delhi. The tweets from the celebrities came with hashtags #IndiaAgainstPropaganda and #IndiaTogether, which were framed by the MEA.