India's political battlefield has moved online, with the main opposition party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), claiming on Monday that its main website at www.bjp.org may be under attack. Party spokeswoman Nirmala Sitharaman said "a lot has been going wrong" on the party's main website ever since she publicly alleged on Sunday that the ruling Indian National Congress may be using another domain name, bjp.com, to redirect Internet users to the official website of the Congress party.
People are also having difficulty accessing the main BJP website, she added.
Some information on the BJP main website, including a copy of a legal notice served last month on the Congress party in connection with the BJP.com issue, was not available this morning on the website. Sitharaman said the party was getting the website checked thoroughly by its IT people.
The Congress party was not immediately available for comment. It is not clear at this point whether the problems that the BJP is facing with BJP.com or its main website is the work of the Congress or of independent hackers.
In its notice to the Congress party, the BJP has said that the redirection of users from the BJP.com to the Congress website could not have happened without "the direct and/or tacit approval" of the Congress party. The party is awaiting the reply of the Congress to the notice, before making specific allegations, Sitharaman said.
The BJP.com website does not currently redirect traffic to the Congress site, though Google's cache of the site as of September 25, indicates that it was earlier redirecting users to the Congress website. The BJP.com site stopped redirecting traffic to the Congress site after her public announcement on Sunday about the misuse of the BJP.com site, Sitharaman said.
The domain name bjp.com is registered in the name of an unknown person in Westchester, California, according to Namecheap.com, the domain registration company that provided the registration. The name of the owner is in a protected category.
Political parties, when they register websites, do so in the .org domain as they are not commercial institutions, Sitharaman told reporters on Sunday. But some time back, a bjp.com site has been created, she added.
The seven-page notice urges the Congress to "cease the redirecting and linking of the said website with their own or any other belonging to the Congress" and take steps for transfer of the domain name bjp.com to the BJP.