New Delhi: The Prime Minister`s Office Tuesday changed its Twitter handle, six days before BJP leader Narendra Modi takes oath as the next prime minister, provoking the BJP to term it "disgraceful, unethical and illegal".
The Twitter handle, @PMOIndia, which was begun during the tenure of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was changed to @PMOIndiaArchive Tuesday.
The original @PMOIndia was left blank, minus text or any display picture. It had over 8,000 followers Tuesday night.
Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said: "Continuity in governance and all government assets is the hallmark of the Indian constitution".
"The Twitter account @PMOIndia is a national digital asset. It is disgraceful, unethical and illegal in the way the outgoing team handling the @PMOIndia Twitter account has conducted the transition of this national digital asset," she said.
Modi was Tuesday elected leader of the BJP parliamentary party. President Pranab Mukherjee named him the prime minister and invited him to take oath on Monday, May 26.
Pankaj Pachauri, media advisor to Manmohan Singh, tweeted: "This is an office account and the office continues to manage it. The handover is being facilitated."
Lekhi added that the BJP hoped for a smooth transition of the Twitter account and demanded that the Twitter handle of @PMOIndia "must become available to the new incoming government. @PMO is not a personal asset, it is a national asset".
Arvind Gupta, head of the BJP IT cell, posted his indignation: "By renaming @PMOIndia, it showed the world for a while India didn`t have a PM`s office, that there was lack in continuity."
"The process of transition of the PMO Twitter account has been ungraceful and unethical on part of the current establishment," he wrote.
"Hope better sense prevails and the outgoing PMO team archives the national digital asset as per established norms and legal procedures," he added.
Pachauri, in an earlier tweet, posted an advisory: "All our official communications are being archived according to the RTI Act. Copyrights and control remain with the office."
"The PMO is in touch with the Twitter office. We are surrendering the official account," an official source told IANS.
But the move provoked angry comments on Twitter.
"Why the outgoing team renamed @PMOIndia as @PMOIndiaArchive? Failed to understand the logic. It is supposed to be the official handle of PMO`s," posted Srikrishnaprasad G.
"This is very unprofessional of the outgoing PMO media team not to have handed over the digital assets. Come on guys leave with some grace," said Umakant Majhi.
Modi is among the most Twitter savvy of politicians, unlike Manmohan Singh. He has over four million followers on Twitter and has posted over 5,000 tweets so far.
The PMO account of Manmohan Singh, with his face as the display picture, has over 1.24 million followers.