Rahul says online 'warriors' will counter hate; party launches 'Join Congress Social Media' campaign

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New Delhi, Feb 8 (PTI) The Congress on Monday launched a 'Join Congress Social Media' campaign with an aim to have five lakh online 'warriors' who, former party chief Rahul Gandhi said, will counter hate and 'defend the idea of India'.

The country needs non-violent warriors to fight for truth, compassion and harmony, Gandhi said in a video message that was streamed at the launch of the campaign.

Launching the campaign along with AICC social media head Rohan Gupta and party spokesperson Pawan Khera, AICC in-charge (Administration) Pawan Kumar Bansal said at a press conference that the aim is to have five lakh social media 'warriors'. In his video message, Gandhi said, 'As a young person you know what is going on. Nothing is hidden from you, in your schools, colleges and universities, you can see the oppression, you can see the attack on the idea of India.' 'Look outside Delhi, you can see what is happening to the farmers. The backbone of this war on the nation is a troll army. Thousands of people who spread hatred and anger and are paid to do so. We also need warriors to defend liberal values, to defend the ideas of compassion, peace, harmony and affection,' the former Congress chief said.

'Come, join this army. This is not an army of hatred, this is not an army of violence, this is an army of truth and this is an army that will defend the idea of India. We are building this platform for you to give you the tools to fight this battle and win it,' Gandhi said.

Gupta, in his remarks, alleged that the Modi government is scared of social media and 'we are giving a platform to the youth to raise their voice'. People can join the campaign through the party website, toll-free number or by WhatsApp, said Gupta, who took over as the chairperson of the Congress' social media department in September 2019. The department was earlier headed by Divya Spandana.

Replying to a question, he said the campaign will be purely volunteer centric as basically, the idea is to ensure those who are connected to the Congress or its ideology need to be put together so that they can raise their voice together. 'We know that today there are trolls, which are using social media. We need to counter them and show the truth to the people. We cannot allow a wrong narrative to be build in India,' Gupta said.

There is a lot of fake news and it is a big issue, he said.

'We need to counter that with the strength of the people. So that is the whole idea that where five lakh people, they come together, obviously, nobody can ignore their voice, that is the basic idea of this campaign,' Gupta said.

He said the party will take this campaign to the people for a month and invite them to join. Then there will be a basic interview in all states and 'we will give responsibilities accordingly', he said.

People can work at different levels -- district, state and national -- and they will be given responsibilities accordingly, Gupta said.

After a month of interviews those who do well will be given training, he added.

In his remarks, Khera said when the BJP came to power in 2014, many criticised the Congress for not being on social media, and when the party became active on social media, many said it is not on the ground, but now 'we are on both'. The campaign and Gandhi's invite for it comes amid the growing chorus seeking his return as party chief. PTI ASK ANB ANB