Qaiser Ali says he still doesn’t understand how it happened. The teenager from Lucknow in India just wanted to give his Twitter handle a better name. “I don’t know how but it came into my mind to check PMO [Prime Minister’s Office] of India, and when I realised it was available, I saved it for myself,” he told BBC Trending.
Although he didn’t realise it at the time, Ali had just stepped into the middle of #Handlegate – a serious social media spat between the offices of India’s soon-to-be sworn in leader, Narendra Modi, and the country’s outgoing Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.
Manmohan Singh started the @PMOIndia Twitter account, which grew to more than a million followers. But as he left office, his team decided not to simply hand the account over. Instead they renamed and archived the Twitter handle – @PMOIndia was turned into @PMOIndiaArchive, taking the million plus followers with it. Narendra Modi’s party, the BJP, which has just won the elections, criticised the move saying the Twitter account was a “national asset”.
This is how the @PMOIndia account looks now – a Twitter “egghead”
As for Qaiser Ali, the recent high school graduate, his tenure as @PMOIndia turned out to be brief. Without any explanation, after half an hour his Twitter handle reverted to its previous name. Which actually came as a relief: “I was shocked, honoured, but also scared. I’m just a 19-year-old kid from India, and this is a government matter. When they found out, my parents scolded me and told me to apologise to all the people of India,” he says.” (He said sorry immediately).