More than meets the eye on BJP silence over Sushma trolls?

NEW DELHI: At a time when Sushma Swaraj is being savagely trolled on Twitter over the transfer of a Lucknow passport official who allegedly harassed an interfaith couple seeking to renew their passports, the BJP has been maintaining a deafening silence.

Officially, BJP leaders claimed it was an internal matter of the Ministry of External Affairs that did not warrant any reaction from the party. But that has not prevented whispers that all may not be hunky dory within the party.

More so, the silence is in stark contrast to the alacrity with which the party jumped to BJP chief Amit Shah’s defence last week following revelations that an Ahmedabad cooperative bank associated with him received Rs 745 crore in post-demonetisation deposits.

The trolling started after Tanvi Seth last week complained to the External Affairs Minister over Twitter that Lucknow passport office employee Vikas Mishra had not approved her application because the name in her Muslim marriage contract did not match the one in her old passport. Her husband alleged he was asked to convert to ensure their marriage was “accepted”.

A day later, the MEA handed them their passports and promised “appropriate action” against the official. Mishra, however, held a media conference to clarify that he had only done his job.Since then, the army of trolls – some of them are followed by the BJP leadership – has been targeting Sushma for allegedly trying to appease minorities.

One of the particularly nasty trolls tweeted: “Biased decision #ISUpportVikasMishra… shame on you mam… is it effect of your Islamic kidney??” Last year, Sushma had undergone a kidney transplant at the All India Institute of Medical Science, Delhi.

Another vicious troll went to the extent of uploading a picture of Sushma with the image of a Pakistani flag on her sari and tweeting: “This … visa mata must be removed immediately from her post.”
On Sunday, Sushma tweeted that she had been out of the country from June 17-23 and “I do not know what happened in my absence”. But she sarcastically added that she was “honoured with some tweets” and even “liked” them.Government sources claimed Sushma had not intervened in the passport controversy. “Since an inquiry is underway, Mishra has been transferred to ensure a fair probe,” a source said.

Ironically, the Congress and Left parties have come out in Sushma’s support. The Congress tweeted: “No matter the situation or reason, nothing calls for threats of violence, disrespect and abuse.”Mohammed Salim, CPM Central Committee member, said the troll brigade was a vicious creation that had become a Frankenstein. “It is a paid brigade created by the RSS-BJP. It is natural for them to oppose an interfaith marriage. As far as abuses against the External Affairs Minister is concerned, either the BJP has lost control over its troll brigade or I think this is being commanded,” he claimed.

CPI leader D Raja alleged, “These (trolls) are the creation of RSS and all are paid activists. Their agenda is to spread lies, abuse and do character assassination of people.”Supreme Court lawyer and former Aam Aadmi Party leader Prashant Bhushan claimed in a tweet that many of the trolls were followed by big guns in the BJP.