Make in India is not working, Prime Minister.
Some Right-wingers have reached out all the way to the Netherlands to find a role model after the BJP sought shelter in the Constitution to weather the West Asian storm after its erstwhile “fringe” spokespersons denigrated Prophet Mohammed.
The great white hope of the disenchanted bhakts comes in the shape of Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, the silver-haired politician labelled as “extreme Right” although he considers himself to be a “Right-wing liberal”. Known for his anti-Islam statements, Wilders was once banned from entering Britain (the bar was overturned later) and is under armed protection because of threats to his life.
In India, several Right-wingers have found solace in Wilders, grabbing his tweet in support of Nupur Sharma and asking Indians not to be “intimidated by Islamic countries”.
“Dutch lawmaker defends Nupur Sharma’s comments, says appeasement only makes things worse. Clear indication of the alarming situation in Europe,” tweeted Prafulla Ketkar, editor of the Organiser weekly magazine that echoes the views of the RSS.
“The kind of courage the Dutch parliamentarian has shown, the BJP should have shown the same,” tweeted one Devendra Jatav, who claimed to be a RSS supporter.
The hashtags #ShameOnBJP and #NupurSharma trended on Twitter on Tuesday, too, although some BJP-bashers contributed to the trend by using the same hashtags.
Among those who slammed the Modi government and demanded revocation of Sharma’s suspension, one name stood out.
Author and commentator Anand Ranganathan, known for his pro-Right-wing stand, tweeted: “Dear @narendramodi. You will listen to the Arabs because 5 million Indians are employed in their countries, but you will not listen to the 500 million Indians employed in your country.”
“Reinstate Nupur. Or declare that no one from now on is allowed to quote from the Hadiths,” he added in his tweet, referring to the collection of sayings that constitute a key source of guidance for Muslims.
Some trolls uploaded posters saying “I support Nupur Sharma” with the picture of the suspended spokesperson and demanded the arrest of Mohammed Zubair of Alt News, the fact-checking website.
Zubair had tweeted the clip of Nupur Sharma’s derogatory comments on Prophet Mohammed and criticised the anchor of the TV show.
The rush to let off steam online may not mean much but it offers a frightening insight into the deep inroads hate, fed and nourished by those in high places, has made in the country and how it can take a life of its own once unbolted.
Amid this storm on the social media, the BJP continued with the silence it had chosen after suspending Sharma and her colleague Navin Jindal.
A media conference was held at the BJP headquarters but it focused on targeting Delhi chief minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal over the Enforcement Directorate raids on his arrested minister Satyendra Jain.
Asked about reports that strict guidelines had been issued for spokespersons, BJP leaders denied the claim. They said that orally people had been asked to focus only on the good and pro-poor work of the Modi government and not to pass unnecessary comments.
“Modiji in his address to party office-bearers had asked everyone to stick to development and national interest and not fall in the trap of our rivals trying to divert focus. This is the line to be followed by spokespersons,” a BJP general secretary said.
Privately, party leaders acknowledged that the suspension of Sharma had caused some unrest among their cadres and supporters but at the same time claimed that in the long run, it would go in their favour.
“The people of Bharat are witnessing everything. Now the same yardstick will be applied when Hindu deities are abused," one leader said.
PTI on Tuesday quoted Sharma as saying that she “accepts and respects” the party’s decision. “I have practically grown up in the organisation. I respect and accept their decision,” Sharma said, asked about the BJP’s action against her.