Indian Expatriates, Foreign Nationals In UAE Receive PM Modi’s Letter On WhatsApp Amid Oppn Criticism

Indian expatriates residing in the UAE, along with individuals from various nationalities including Emiratis, Britons, and Pakistanis, were taken aback over the weekend upon receiving a WhatsApp message from an Indian number, according to a report by Khaleej Times. The message, originating from ‘Viksit Bharat Sampark’, solicited feedback and suggestions on the Indian government’s schemes and initiatives, accompanied by a letter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the form of a PDF attachment.

This letter has sparked controversy domestically with the Congress terming the attached PDF as “political propaganda”.

While some recipients found the unsolicited message pleasantly surprising, others, particularly non-Indians, were left scratching their heads, wondering about their involvement. According to the report, Dubai-based Pakistani journalist Asma Zain expressed her bewilderment: “It left me wondering: what sort of suggestions could Mr. Modi possibly need from me? And more importantly, should I even be providing them?” Fahad Siddiqui, another Pakistani resident, echoed the sentiment, calling the situation “very strange”.

Similarly, a British resident of Dubai, who had recently travelled to India for work, initially assumed the message pertained to his professional engagements, the report mentioned.

“I am curious how they got our numbers,” said an Indian, as quoted by Khaleej Times. Several Emiratis also said they received the letter, as per the report.

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Back home, Opposition parties have criticised the BJP’s outreach efforts, alleging political propaganda disguised as citizen feedback. The Kerala Congress denounced the attached PDF as mere campaign material, criticising Prime Minister Modi for ‘misusing’ government resources for political gain. Many recipients also expressed concerns over the perceived breach of their data privacy.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor took to social media on Monday to share screenshots of concerns raised by UAE-based consultant Anthony J Permal regarding the message. “Will the ⁦@ECISVEEP ⁩ take note of such a blatant misuse of government machinery and government data to serve the partisan political interests of the ruling party,” he wrote on X.

Trinamool Congress MP Saket Gokhale cited the messages sent internationally remarking, “Min @AshwiniVaishnaw must answer how his Ministry is illegally running a BJP campaign using state machinery despite the code of conduct.”

“What database was used in this? Why are messages being sent violating code of conduct?” he questioned.

On Sunday, the Kerala Congress also questioned Meta over WhatsApp’s policy, stating, “The message talks about taking feedback from Citizens, but the attached PDF is nothing but political propaganda.”

“WhatsApp’s stated policy prohibits the usage of WhatsApp for political campaigns. If that’s the policy, how do you permit a political leader to do propaganda on your platform? Or do you have a separate policy for BJP,” it added. ALSO READ | ‘Political Propaganda’: Congress Slams PM Modi’s WhatsApp Outreach, Questions Meta Policy

In February, BJP president J P Nadda launched ‘Viksit Bharat Modi ki guarantee’ video vans, soliciting suggestions from citizens nationwide to shape the party’s manifesto for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The Modi government has yet to respond to the criticisms regarding the WhatsApp messages.

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