Prime Minister Oli deletes tweet after diplomatic gaffeA retweet of a message of Sonia Gandhi condemning Modi government’s crackdown on protests in India by Prime Minister Oli’s official twitter handle meets with criticism.
When it comes to diplomatic gaffes on Twitter, US President Donald Trump probably tops the list of world leaders. But on Friday, Nepal's Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli became the centre of attention among Nepalis for a diplomatic faux pas.
The prime minister's official account, @PM_Nepal, retweeted an Indian author’s comment with a video: “Sonia Gandhi doing what Modi should have done by now: addressing the nation in a calm voice.”
On Friday, Indian National Congress president Gandhi, in a video message to the nation, had condemned the Bharatiya Janata Party's utter disregard for people’s voices and its attempts to suppress them with brute force.
At 10:26pm on Friday, Narayan Amrit, editor of the NepalLive, shared the screenshot, with the comments "now, without comments", which showed @PM_Nepal's retweet of the image that showed Gandhi's message in which she pledged to stand up for the rights of Indians.
@TenzingLamsang, editor of @thebhutanese, a Thimphu-based newspaper, tweeted the same image and said: "In other news the official Twitter account of Nepal’s PM @PM_Nepal Retweets a tweet by Indian journalist (and my college mate) @DilliDurAst questioning Modi for not addressing the nation calmly like Sonia Gandhi over the #CAA_NRC protests."
At least 20 people are reported dead in India over protests against the Narendra Modi government's controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The controversial citizenship law aims to give Indian citizenship to immigrants from three neighbouring countries (Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan) — but not if they are Muslims.
Nepal has not officially commented on the matter as of now.
But a retweet from Oli's handle had his advisors scrambling for an excuse.
The retweet was undone and then deleted later, as Oli's press advisor, Surya Thapa, issued a clarification.
In a weirdly crafted message, Thapa wrote: "Something otherwise has been seen from the prime minister's twitter handle. We are investigating possible misuse of password. So [I] request you all not to fall into any rumour and confusion."
However, Nepalis on Twitter appeared unconvinced, and some even raised questions about the efficiency of Oli's advisers.
In a tweet, @sanpokh wrote: "PM's 'advisors' probably think rest of the people who read their tweets are just some kind of gullible idiots who would believe in every garbage they cook -like this one."
"Just to add: Oli's team of advisors and/or Baluwatar insiders are probably the most incompetent among all sets of people hired by Nepal's past PMs. they don't advise Oli -repeatedly tell him what he likes to hear and fix things for NCP mafias!" he added.
This is not the first time Oli's team of advisors has been called out by Nepalis on social media.
Ruling Nepal Communist Party insiders have also often accused Oli of being heavily reliant on a handful of people in his team for advice and policy decisions, ignoring his party members and even Cabinet members.
Last month, during what was publicized as a major overhaul in Oli's secretariat, all advisors were asked to resign, which was also seen as a precursor to a Cabinet reshuffle. But Oli later defenestrated Kundan Aryal and brought Thapa in as his press advisor.
Journalist @KanakManiDixit, who had quoted Amrit's tweet on Friday night saying "Official account of PM of Nepal retweeting Sonia Gandhi statement on India violence posted by Indian journalist. Its a topsy turvy world all right !" wrote an updated tweet on Saturday morning. "That unruly RT seems to have been taken down. Hope for no more diplomatic faux pas from person handling @PM_Nepal account,” he said.
Thapa, who has now made the clarification his pinned tweet, has not said anything further on the matter.
It was not clear whether it was Oli himself who inadvertently retweeted the tweet concerning India's internal matters or if it was an act by someone who handles his Twitter account.
The gaffe, however, generated quite some comments.
“Prime minister should be aware of tweet diplomacy,” wrote one user.
“Why should others trust us when the prime minister’s social media accounts are in the hand of immatures?” wrote another.
Oli has his own personal Twitter account as well, and he has often said he handles that account himself. After his appendectomy last month, Oli used the account to congratulate those who wished for his health and speedy recovery.
Nepal and India share a longstanding relationship, but it is not free of quirks and quibbles. While Delhi at times does not hesitate to comment on or interfere in Nepal's internal affairs, Kathmandu usually refrains from acting in a similar vein.