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TikTok celebrity gets BJP ticket for upcoming Haryana elections

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The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Haryana unit has nominated TikTok sensation Sonali Phogat as its candidate for the Adampur seat in the upcoming state elections. Phogat has more than 161,000 followers on TikTok and has clocked more than 738,000 likes on the platform.

The 40-year-old said in an interview with News18 that if elected, she would use TikTok to upload videos on patriotism and “instill desh bhakti” in young people, but maintained that she hadn’t got the ticket because of her TikTok presence. Phogat also said that, if elected, she would use the platform to let people know about her work an MLA. Stressing the social media apps could be useful, in another interview with NDTV, Phogat said she would now use the platform for the welfare of people.

Why this matters: This comes at a time when BJP-led government and its allies have adopted an adversarial approach to TikTok:

  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s (MeitY) Cyber Laws and e-Security wing had issued a notice to TikTok and Helo, asking them to respond to concerns that they were being used to commit anti-India and unlawful activities. The Ministry warned them that they may face action or be banned if the it didn’t get an appropriate response.
  • RSS affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch has openly criticised TikTok as being a hub for “anti-national content”, capable of disrupting the “fabric of our society”.
  • BJP functionaries had written to the Election Commission during the last General Election raising concerns over morphed political advertisements on the platform.
  • AIADMK’s MLA Thamimun Ansari had requested to ban TikTok. BJP contested the 2019 general elections in coalition with AIADMK in Tamil Nadu.

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