“Being a woman is a terribly difficult trade since it consists principally of dealings with men.” ― Joseph Conard (well known Polish British novelist)
It had been my firm conviction as a son, as a brother, as a husband, as a father and as a friend that women are more patient, tolerant, sophisticated and decent in most respects than men folks.
I assume that the trolls who are using all sort of filthy language against Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj on social media now are men. They are a crowd of irrational bigots and the shame they’re bringing to their upbringing. Sheer hate, just because the Minister of External Affairs Smt Sushma Swaraj has helped an inter-faith couple to get passport, she is being made the target of abuse and all sort of fanatical absurdities. Earlier this week, Vikas Mishra, an officer in the regional passport office in Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow was transferred after he allegedly humiliated the inter-faith couple, asking the woman to change her last name and the man to convert to Hinduism. Tanvi Seth and Anas Siddique had also alleged that Mishra misbehaved with them when they went to the passport office for the mandatory personal interview to get the travel document. Seth alleged Mishra not only declined to clear her application but also refused to renew her husband’s passport.
After the action taken by the Minister of External Affairs, all hell of social media is let lose upon her and her family while there seems to be no help coming from her party BJP or the leadership.
Someone asks her husband Swaraj Kaushal on twitter to “beat her up” for “Muslim appeasement”. Another troll re-tweeted the message posted by one Mukesh Gupta (@MG_IITDelhi) which asked him to beat his wife “when she comes home” and “teach her not to do Muslim appeasement” as “Muslims never vote for the BJP”.
I’ve often felt that Smt Sushma Swaraj is NOT in a party she deserves to be or she she should be. Of course, she have had often shown her feet of clay in politics. However, she is unlucky also as she had narrowly missed in the last race of Prime Ministership. In Sep 2012, the Shiv Sena Supremo Bal Thackeray had said that leader of opposition in Lok Sabha Sushama Swaraj is the only leader in the ally BJP who would make a “deserving” Prime Minister. In part three of his marathon interview, published by Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ he wrote: “At present there is only one person who is intelligent, brilliant – Sushma Swaraj. “I have said this many times… She would be a great choice for PM’s post. She is a deserving, intelligent woman. She would deliver a great performance.”.
Mr Thackeray’s comments had come in the wake of pre-poll arguments about the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi who had been widely pitched as a potential prime ministerial candidate. Before that his party had consistently refrained from projecting him as one. This was largely due to the strong discomfort among its allies, most notably Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal(United) which has made it amply clear that Mr Modi would not be acceptable as the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate. Mr Kumar, the chief minister of Bihar, did not name his Gujarat counterpart, but said a contender for PM must have “clean and secular” credentials. What had followed after that is now part of history and very soon the story would go into the folklore. We have to wait for 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The silent observers in India and around the globe are helplessly watching journalists like Barkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghose, Ravish Kumar, Rajdeep Sardesai, Rana Ayyub, Rahul Kanwal and others facing online abuse every day. Even politicians from political parties across the spectrum, on some occasion or the other, have been victims or part of internet trolling.
In 2015, former Union Minister Arun Shourie was attacked for criticising the Modi government. In an interview to NDTV he had said, “If you gave me an opportunity to read the kind of abuse that has been hurled at me and my handicapped son, your viewers will be horrified…. They wrote, ‘Jiska mental son hai, woh aur bhi mental banega.’ These damned fools are followed by the PM on the social media.”
Senior journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, who was trolled for an article recently, shared how the world over people were fighting an “organised army of trolls, paid for by those with vested interest, either political or corporate”.
“And, especially the extreme-right-wing people are using the techniques and the tactics in a Goebbels-like manner to spread misinformation, which is propaganda, for a purpose, which is extremely pernicious. Fake news is being spread through WhatsApp and other media to foment hatred and tension, like in the Muzaffarnagar riot case,” he said. “Facebook has more users than the population of China and it’s only growing. So, it cannot be ignored or wished away,” Thakurta said.
In this episode of Sushma’s trolling, Her husband Governor has sorrowfully replied the trolls:
“Your words have given us unbearable pain. Just to share with you, my mother died of cancer in 1993. Sushma was an MP and a former Education Minister. She lived in the hospital for a year. She refused to engage a medical attendant and attended on my dying mother personally. Such was her devotion to the family. As per my father’s wish, she lit my father’s pyre. We adore her. Please do not use such words for her. We are first generation in law and politics. We pray for nothing more than her life. Pls convey my profound regards to your wife.
The soft and sophisticated response of Sushma Swaraj is really appreciable:
“I was out of India from 17th to 23rd June 2018. I do not know what happened in my absence. However, I am honoured with some tweets. I am sharing them with you. So I have liked them,” she tweeted.
Will it make any difference?