Puducherry social media row puts bureaucracy in a quandary

They feel trapped in the crossfire over the use of social media for official purposes between Lt. Governor Kiran Bedi and Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy.

January 11, 2017 08:27 am | Updated 01:54 pm IST - PUDUCHERRY:

The bureaucracy, which has been caught in the middle of the turf war between Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi and Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy, is waiting with bated breath on the issue of the use of social media platform for official communication following the divergent stand taken by Ms. Bedi and Mr. Narayanasamy on the matter.

The divergent stand came out in the public domain after the Lieutenant Governor cancelled a circular issued under the instructions of the Chief Minister, directing the government officials not to join social media platforms for official communication.

The government employees, especially Pondicherry Civil Service (PCS) cadre officers, had exited Whatsapp groups initiated by the Lieutenant Governor following the suspension of a PCS cadre officer for posting objectionable material in a group.

A cross section of PCS officers with whom The Hindu spoke said they would react only after Ms. Bedi makes the next move — that is to see whether they would be tagged again to the groups from which they exited, before taking any decision. “We have been unnecessarily caught in a spat,” said a senior official.

The Lieutenant Governor had floated Whatsapp groups such as Prosperous Puducherry, Our Karaikal, LG’s Response, Prosperous Rural and Open Defecation Free Puducherry. “Most of us have exited from the groups since the controversy surfaced. We will wait and see what happens after the Lieutenant Governor returns to the headquarters,” said an official.

The LG’s Response group was mainly to address the grievances of public. Ms. Bedi used to give online communication directing officials to attend to the grievances of the public and the action taken. The other groups have different roles, an official said, adding the communications were mostly confined to administrative matters.

The officers firmly believe that the advisory issued by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology two years ago gives them immunity from not participating in the groups for communicating administrative matters.

The advisory says “all the ministries and departments of Central and State governments should either use e-mail services provided by National Informatics Centre or should use their own e-mail and web services, being fully controlled by them and hosted in India for official communication.”

The advisory was based on section 4 of the Public Records Act, 1993.

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