Prime Minister Narendra Modi has often faced public condemnation for following some of the most vicious Twitter trolls on the microblogging site. Some of the Twitter users ‘blessed to be followed’ by Modi have called a murdered journalist ‘kutiya (bitch)’ while rejoicing her death, targeted women journalists with rape threats and used inappropriate language for a journalist’s three-year-old daughter.
All because their targets were critical of the policies of the government headed by Modi. Even in the face of both national and international condemnation, Modi has refused to unfollow these Twitter users.
It was, therefore, interesting that Modi chose to greet the people on the occasion of World Social Media Day last Saturday saying that the new medium had played a key role in democratising discourse, and helped people express their views and showcase their creativity.
His two tweets posted on World Social Media Day read, “Greetings on Social Media Day! The world of social media has played a key role in democratising our discourse and giving a platform to millions of people around the world to express their views and showcase their creativity.
“I would particularly like to congratulate my young friends for their innovative usage of social media. Their frank method of conveying opinions is extremely endearing. I urge youngsters to continue expressing and discussing freely.”
Many journalists and commentators were quick to detect the glaring irony in his tweets since they came just days after his supporters including some of the people he followed on Twitter had given grief to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. A senior cabinet colleague of Modi, Swaraj was even issued death threats while thousands of BJP supporters mocked her and even began to post negative reviews on her Facebook page.
An exasperated Swaraj was later forced to remove the ‘Reviews’ option from her Facebook page as she shared her agony on Twitter. As expected, Modi, a prolific social media user, remained silent. The Congress party even released a musical plea asking Modi to unfollow the abusive trolls.
One of the most respected leaders of the Bjp senior most Minister is facing this horrific attack by Modi’s bigoted trolls. Truly sad https://t.co/FCDywxa090
— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) June 30, 2018
Our PM @narendramodi ji has all the time to congratulate Mexican president,condemn Afghanistan attacks,share a Madhubani artwork n congratulate ‘young team’ on social media day.But he hasn’t tweeted a single line on how @SushmaSwaraj ji was trolled. Ignorance or intentional? ?
— Sakshi Joshi (@sakshijoshii) July 2, 2018
Dear @narendramodi ji
— Dipali Sikand (@SikandDipali) June 30, 2018
No where in the world would a top minister be subjected to this kind of trolling. And no where would a minister be made to feel so helpless. https://t.co/g9lRLkc1zk
— bhupendra chaubey (@bhupendrachaube) July 1, 2018
Whilst, journalists all around the world have often wondered why Modi was unable to unfollow the vicious trolls on Twitter, there were some who felt that these abusive trolls were the Indian prime minister’s private army.
I had said it once on Mirror Now. PM @narendramodi is so powerful that if he wants, no trolls will have guts to use abusive language. But he wouldn’t. What does it say new India when 40% ppl support those who called for @SushmaSwaraj’s assassination? https://t.co/HTdVQjPrkk
— Rifat Jawaid (@RifatJawaid) July 1, 2018
Agree this troll army is Modi’s private army & even if one of these sick bigots is arrested all this nonsense will end https://t.co/AUf1zQYDTb
— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) July 1, 2018
Modi’s message to his followers came even as Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi filed a case against one Girish Maheshwari, an account officer with the BJP, who had threatened to rape her daughter. In his chilling tweet, Maheshwari had written, “Priyanka, I would like to rape your daughter. Send your daughter to me.”
Faced with an outrage and a police complaint filed by Chaturvedi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh directed the Mumbai Police take action against the user. A day later, Maheshwari was arrested from Gujarat.
The abusive tweet by Maheshwari wasn’t in isolation. Only last week, tweets posted by an individual who Modi has been following for a long time also brought the prime minister’s message issued on World Social Media Day under the scanner.
Interestingly, the ‘frank method’ has been displayed by a several users; Nikunj Sahu, who in his last two tweets targeting Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his party colleague Asutosh has successfully demonstrated both his capacity to hurl abuses and the support he enjoyed from his boss, PM Modi.
Sahu, whose Twitter bio says ‘Proudly followed by PM Narendra Modi Ji,’ wrote for Asutosh, ” You mother fucker… Ideology of bloody Secularism is a destroyer for The Hindu Rashtra Bharat… Kashmiriyo ki maa ki chut.. Bharat me rehna hai toh Hindutva ke hisab se rehna hoga…(sic)”
The language of his other tweets are also so vile in nature that they must not be reproduced on any decent news platform, but to illustrate the kind of filth Modi encourages on Twitter, it is important to post them here.
Sahu had targeted Kejriwal with the following abusive tweet in the past, “Yes, your mother’s pus*y. You bloody pimp of left front Kejriwal. I will only rest after having you cut into pieces. You mother fuck**r, just wait and watch what happens next.”
Last year on International Women’s Day, Kejriwal had urged Modi to unfollow the vicious right-wing trolls, who are known for giving grief to women on Twitter. He had written, “On this day, I urge Hon’ble PM to unfollow all those who abuse n threaten women n take strong action against them. (sic)”
Abusive trolls enjoying Modi’s blessings has been a topic of intense social media debate but even in the face of incessant criticism from intellectuals and hosts of civil rights activists, the prime minister has not stopped following them. Critics say that the abusive trolls in question form the infamous Twitter army of the saffron party.
These developments may have left Modi utter exposed highlighting his sheer hypocrisy while pretending to be a leader, who’s sophisticated and possesses statesman-like quality. If anything, his tacit support to to Twitter trolls has served as yet another example how he’s considerably disgraced the post of prime minister in India.