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Trolls are the New Pracharaks, Says Chidambaram on Sushma Swaraj's Twitter Ordeal

From BJP leaders to opposition Congress and even celebrities, all condemned the language used in the online trolling against Swaraj. Among them is former union minister P Chidambaram, who believes that the trolls are the ‘new pracharaks’, who are ‘mobilised’ to serve one or two leaders.

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Updated:July 8, 2018, 12:27 PM IST
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Trolls are the New Pracharaks, Says Chidambaram on Sushma Swaraj's Twitter Ordeal
File photo of senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram. (PTI)
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New Delhi: The troll army on social media is often unabashed in its criticism. From B-town celebrities to politicians, none are spared when an issue irks Twitterati. However, the recent troll attack on external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj over a passport row, triggered discontent across platforms.

From BJP leaders to opposition Congress and even celebrities, all condemned the language used in the online trolling against Swaraj. Among them is former union minister P Chidambaram, who believes that the trolls are the ‘new pracharaks’, who are ‘mobilised’ to serve one or two leaders, are ‘followed’ by senior BJP leaders, and nobody will dare to offend them.




“Anyone who has read Swati Chaturvedi’s I Am A Troll knows who they are and how they are funded. Ms Swaraj’s fault was that she did not take note of the troll army until they targeted her,” he wrote in the Sunday’s edition of The Indian Express.

The former minister believes that Swaraj fought a lonely battle to find an honourable place in the new government and was ultimately accommodated as Minister of External Affairs — “but with little say in the conduct of foreign policy, which had been taken over by the Prime Minister’s Office”.

“During 2009-2014, she was the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha — a position that in a parliamentary democracy should have made her the natural choice to be prime minister if her party won the election. The BJP won the election in 2014, but an outsider with tremendous energy and political skill had already stormed his way to become the leader of the party and, therefore, Prime Minister,” he said.

The senior Congress leader also expressed his bewilderment over Swaraj’s fellow ministers and party functionaries not standing up for her during the entire ‘unsavoury controversy’.

“Many days later, the Home Minister (Rajnath Singh) revealed that he had spoken to Ms Swaraj and told her that the trolls were “wrong” but that she should not have taken them seriously! Really, Mr Home Minister, should we not take the trolls seriously? By the same yardstick, I suppose, we should not take the moral police, the love-jehadis, the cow protection vigilantes and the lynch mobs seriously,” Chidambaram wrote.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala had earlier alleged that people who targeted Swaraj on Twitter are being protected by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and if he had shown the courage to condemn the trolls, it would have set an example.

Elaborating on the nature of the ‘troll army’, Chidambaram further said that in recent months, mobs, egged on by rumours, have killed people suspected to be child-lifters. One of them, Sukanta Chakraborty, was a young man appointed by the authorities in Sabroom, Tripura, to quell rumour-mongering.

“In the virtual world, the mob is not very different. They have a name: trolls. They are intolerant, rude, coarse, vulgar and violent. Their weapons are hate speech and fake news. They may not kill, but I suspect that many of them, if he or she was part of a violent mob in the real world, would not hesitate to do so,” the senior Congress leader added.

Swaraj was attacked on social media over a controversy involving the issuance of passport to an inter-faith couple.

Lucknow couple, Mohammad Anas Siddiqui and Tanvi Seth, were allegedly humiliated by an officer at the city passport office, following which they sought the external minister’s help on Twitter. Swaraj’s team immediately swung into action and the couple was issued passports. However, the move did not go down well with some people, drawing sharp criticism from them.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader Rajiv Tuli had said that even the minister “was not above the law” and a fair investigation should be conducted. He sought “justice” for the passport officer and asked Swaraj to give the officer a chance to explain his side of the story.
| Edited by: Sumedha Kirti
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