Bhandari converts President Office’s Twitter handle into private accountShe has converted official handle of the President @presidentofNP to @BidyaDBhandari.
After serving as President for two terms that lasted for seven and half years, Bidya Devi Bhandari left Sheetal Niwas on March 13. During her tenure as the head of the state, Bhandari courted controversy for many of her decisions.
But the latest controversy is Bhandari claimed the official Twitter handle of the President of Nepal after her retirement.
The former president is being widely criticised on social media and in public for changing the president's official Twitter handle into her personal name.
Bhandari, has converted the official handle of the president @presidentofNP into @BidyaDBhandari. The twitter account has some 25,000 followers. In converting the professional handle into personal, Twitter has removed its blue tick, a verified badge on Twitter.
Mentioning Bhandari’s tweet on Thursday, where she congratulated the Nepali Cricket team for earning an automatic berth at the World Cup Qualifiers after their win against the United Arab Emirates, a Twitter user @Rjaiseri wrote: “She should have felt a bit ashamed for tweeting from a stolen ID.”
On Bhandari’s congratulatory tweet, many users wrote sarcastic comments and some others criticised her for her ‘indecent act.’
“I would have given her my Twitter account for free,” read another comment by Damodar Neupane, with Twitter handle @tweet_neupane.
Even social media researchers and journalists termed the former president Bhandari’s act of personalising the professional Twitter account as a move that has set a wrong precedent.
Ujjwal Acharya, a social media researcher and journalist, said it’s unfortunate that the former president has resorted to converting the official presidential Twitter handle into a personal one. “Official tweets of the President are a national property. They should have been archived, but it is being put to personal use, which is wrong,” said Acharya.
“If you look at the United States and other developed nations, there is a trend of archiving the Twitter posts of former heads of state, and they have standard operating procedures,” said Acharya. “But there are no clear standards and practices in our country,” said Acharya.
The President’s office Sheetal Niwas informed that Bhandari didn’t hand over the official handle to the new president’s team.
“Former president Bhandari has not handed over the official Twitter ID to us, and President Paudel is using his own personal Twitter handle, for now,” said Chiranjibi Adhikari, personal secretary to President Ram Chandra Paudel.
Nepali Congress’ senior leader Paudel who was elected as the third president of Nepal on March 9, has already moved to Sheetal Niwas from his private residence at Boharatar. He has been using his personal Twitter handle @RcPaudelNepal, which has more than 163,000 followers.
Paudel took oath of office on March 13, the same day Bhandari left Sheetal Niwas.
When the Post contacted Tika Dhakal, information and communication expert to the former president Bhandari to inquire about the former president’s move of converting the official Twitter handle into her own personal handle, he suggested inquiring with Sheetal Niwas.
“I don’t know about it and I can’t take responsibility for that,” said Dhakal.
In the case of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), there has been a practice of the outgoing prime minister’s team handing over the official Twitter handle to the team of the new prime minister. Journalist Acharya, however, recalls that the practice of handing over the prime minister’s Twitter handle was established only after public criticism.
“After criticism from social media activists, it’s now being handed over to the new prime minister, but there is no system of archiving Twitter posts of earlier prime ministers,” said Acharya.
When Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal got appointed to the post on December 25, his predecessor Sher Bahadur Deuba’s team handed over the Twitter handle to Dahal’s team.
After Deuba’s exit from Baluwatar, Prime Minister Dahal started tweeting official statements from the same account.
The first tweet posted from the account in Dahal’s name was about Ambassador of the United States to Nepal, Dean R. Thompson who had paid a courtesy call on Dahal.
On the former president Bhandari personalising the Twitter handle of the President’s Office, Acharya said: “The Twitter handle of the President’s Office should be kept professional, because it’s a source for official information, not only for people within the country, but also for the international community.”