Home / India / Right-wing ecosystem turns on BJP for suspending Nupur Sharma

Right-wing ecosystem turns on BJP for suspending Nupur Sharma

Delhi leader Kapil Mishra — accused of delivering hate speeches in the run-up to the February 2020 riots — expresses his displeasure in public
Nupur Sharma.
Nupur Sharma.
File photo

J.P. Yadav   |   New Delhi   |   Published 07.06.22, 02:41 AM

The Right-wing ecosystem on Monday turned on the BJP for suspending spokesperson Nupur Sharma, with the hashtag “#ShameOnBJP” trending on Twitter, prompting suggestions that the ruling dispensation may have lost control over the troll army it had once unleashed for political gain, unless a time-tested good-cop-bad-cop tactic is being deployed to address conflicting overseas and domestic concerns.

Those castigating the party for “throwing to the wolves” a “young Hindu leader” included prominent BJP supporters, while indirect criticism came even from party motormouth Kapil Mishra and the director of The Kashmir Files.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi wasn’t targeted directly, some sought to obliquely portray him as a weak leader by appearing to favour Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath for the top job.

“Dear Hindus, just imagine Yogi Ji as Prime Minister of India,” a tweet said.

Vivek Agnihotri, maker of the film The Kashmir Files whose controversial depiction of the 1990s Pandit exodus from the Valley had received enthusiastic endorsement from Modi, appeared to hail Sharma as Goddess Durga.

“Once again, #UrbanNaxals won,” he tweeted. “I stand with @NupurSharmaBJP. It’s time for you to change your handle to @NupurSharmaDurga.”

The BJP had on Sunday suspended Sharma and expelled Delhi unit spokesperson Navin Jindal over their derogatory comments on Prophet Mohammed, acting after West Asian countries exerted diplomatic pressure while their people called for a boycott of Indian goods.

While many young BJP cadres and leaders expressed their disgust privately at the action against Sharma, Delhi leader Kapil Mishra — accused of delivering hate speeches in the run-up to the February 2020 riots — expressed his displeasure in public.

Alluding to the pressure from “Islamic countries”, he tweeted in Hindi: “The Hindu is a second-class citizen in this world. Hinduism is the only religion mocking or abusing which brings not punishment but reward.”

The BJP is believed to have built its army of social media trolls in the lead-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, getting them to amplify its campaign and propaganda that eventually helped the party win power at the Centre.

Since then, this army has gained in strength and has repeatedly been unleashed to malign political and ideological rivals and intensify polarising Hindutva campaigns, especially before elections.

With the same ecosystem now turning against the BJP, a party leader suggested that “the genie is out of the bottle”.

Party insiders said RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s recent advice to Hindus not to look for a Shivalinga in every mosque, and BJP president J.P. Nadda’s statement leaving the Gyanvapi controversy to “the courts and the Constitution”, were aimed at restraining the Hindutva ecosystem.

“But they (the trolls) are out of control,” a BJP old-timer said.

He acknowledged that the action against Sharma had generated anger among the younger cadres.

“I have received calls from many party workers saying what has happened with Nupur and Navin is wrong. The leadership should not have crumbled under pressure from Islamic countries, they are saying,” the BJP leader said.

Opposition politicians, however, demanded “real action” against Sharma, recalling how the BJP had used suspensions in the past for mere optics.

“BJP suspended Dayashankar Singh for 6 years for his objectionable remarks on former UP CM @Mayawati Ji. Dayashankar had returned within 6 months, (his) wife became a minister and today Dayashankar himself is a minister. This is the suspension of BJP. People want real action,” BSP parliamentarian Danish Ali tweeted.

Sharma’s backers began an online petition titled “Support Nupur Sharma against religious bigotry”, which had received 30,000 signatures by evening.

The petition, however, did not slam the BJP or mention Sharma’s suspension but sought to condemn the death threats she says she has received from “Islamists”.

Among the signatories was former Infosys director Mohandas Pai, who canvassed signatures for the campaign on Twitter.

“Support Nupur Sharma against religious bigotry - Sign the petition! Via @ChangeOrg_India. Folks threats of violence is unacceptable, pl stand up against such threats,” Pai tweeted.

The petition says: “Nupur Sharma, a young Hindu leader of mainstream political party who is known for her tremendous work on grassroot levels, is now being threatened for her life by radical Islamists after a controversial fact checker Mohd Zubair instigated his community through his social media account against Nupur for just stating verses from his religious text.”

It adds: “We stand in solidarity with Nupur Sharma and strongly condemn this subjugation and suppression which is not only unconstitutional but also criminal.”

The petition urges the central government, home minister and the Delhi police commissioner to take note of the threats to Sharma and provide her adequate security.

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