tata sons cyrus mistry chairman exits quits ratan tata interim head
In this file photo, the then Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata (R) and Deputy Chairman Cyrus Mistry attend the launch of a new website for tech superstore Croma, managed by Infiniti Retail, a part of the Tata Group, in Mumbai April 23, 2012. On Monday (October 24, 2016), Tata Sons, the holding company of the Group, announced that Cyrus Mistry has been replaced by Ratan Tata as interim chairman of Tata Sons.Reuters file

The ongoing boardroom battle for control of the $125 billion Tata Group has spilled over to Twitter, with marketing executives convinced that several of the tweets indicate that they are being paid for by vested interests.

The Cyrus Mistry-Ratan Tata row that began after Mistry was ousted on October 24 has led to many unsavoury developments, including high-profile exits and defamation suits.

After the split between the two camps, thousands of tweets supporting Cyrus have appeared with hashtags such as #WadiaTruthsTataLies, #CyrusMistryforGovernance and #RaTantrum. While on Tata's side, #TataForIndia and #Support4Tata cultivated support for the current chairman.

"Many of the Twitter conversations are neither organic nor natural, I'm aware that many aspects of it are gamed by incentivised masses," Praanesh Bhuvaneswar, chief executive officer of New Delhi-based digital PR agency TeraReach, was quoted saying by Bloomberg.

Bhuvaneswar said that his company, which also pays influential tweeters to trigger conversation on social media, discovered handles tweeting at least 10 times an hour, often behaving like turncoats. His research also suggested that the volume of tweets in support of Ratan Tata exceeded Mistry as regular tweeters sided with him.

"It's so vicious and full of disinformation that it makes it obvious that both sides have deployed hired armies to promote their own versions," Nikhil Pahwa, the New Delhi-based founder of Medianama, said

The following is an example of a tweet which questioned the authenticity of other tweets:

"Tweets on #RaTantrum are like promotions for any film. Same repeated tweets from many handles. Someone wants this trending in India," one user @sonarprathamesh said.

Here is an example of a tweet which is under scanner for authenticity:

"What is the use of questioning independence of independent directors??#CyrusMistryforGovernance," another handle @SanairaKhan tweeted.

"It is the Twitter equivalent of Fake News," Karthik Srinivasan, national lead of social at Ogilvy & Mather India, said while adding that the impression that both the sides have hundreds of impassioned supporters is illusory.

While both the camps try to shape public opinion, the power tussle assumes more significance as Tata Sons is seeking shareholder votes to evict Mistry and Nusli Wadia as directors from the boards of various companies, such as TCS, Tata Chemicals and Indian Hotels and has called an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on December 22 for the same.

Wadia had sent a defamation legal notice to Tata Group on November 22, asking the conglomerate to take back its false allegations against him or to face a defamatory lawsuit.