Banned by Facebook on Thursday over hateful content and labelled a "dangerous individual", controversial Telangana BJP MLA T Raja Singh claimed it had been more than a year since he left the social networking website and asked whether the company was working under Congress "pressure". Defending Facebook as "a neutral platform", Mr Singh said linking it with BJP is not fair. He said he will write to Facebook to open a new account for him and promised to follow all rules.
"I will write to Facebook to open my official account. I will follow all rules and regulations to use it. I should be given the right to use Facebook account and I will seek their permission," said the BJP leader known for incendiary speeches that usually target Muslims.
Mr Singh, the only legislator of the BJP from Telangana, claimed he did not have a Facebook account since April 2019 and that the pages the social networking site now banned might have been created by his followers.
Under fire for weeks over its handling of hate speech by those linked to the ruling party, Facebook on Thursday said it has banned Raja Singh from its platform and Instagram for violating its policy on content promoting violence and hate.
Reacting to the ban, Mr Singh said he had written a letter to Hyderabad Police Cyber Crime department on October 8, 2018 that his official Facebook verified page was hacked. He again started a new page which "was unpublished/deleted in April 2019".
"So, Since April 2019, I'm not on Facebook itself, so no question of banning (me). Is Facebook working under the pressure of Congress," Mr Singh said in a brief statement.
In a separate video message, the legislator said leaders like Rahul Gandhi made ''false'' statements against the BJP and PM Modi, using social media platforms and demanded that after thorough research, accounts of Congress and Asaduddin Owaisi's All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) parties should be removed from social networking sites.
On Thursday, Facebook said it has banned Raja Singh "for violating our policy prohibiting those that promote or engage in violence and hate from having a presence on our platform."
After the ban, Mr Singh has been designated under Facebook's dangerous individuals and organisations policy, and will not be allowed to maintain a presence on the platform going forward.
The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led to Facebook's decision to remove his account, a statement from the company said.
Facebook, which counts India among its largest markets with over 300 million users, has been in the eye of a storm after a Wall Street Journal report alleged that its content policies favoured the ruling BJP.
The report had alleged that Facebook had ignored posts containing hate speech by Raja Singh to protect its business interests in India, setting off a political feud between the opposition Congress and the ruling BJP.
A parliamentary panel led by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor summoned Facebook representatives to discuss the issue on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had also written to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg accusing the social media platform's employees of supporting people from a political predisposition that lost successive elections, and "abusing" the Prime Minister and senior cabinet ministers.
(With inputs from PTI)