Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Sushma Swaraj blocks Twitter accounts critiquing her, becomes "most popular female leader" on social media

By Our Representative
India’s Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj has begun blocking individual twitter accounts, which give a negative feedback about all that she does or believes. The last to be blocked is well-known Ahmedabad-based young academic Pravin Mishra after he made a scathing reply to her suggestion that, next time when fellow Indians meet an African, they should shake hands and say “I love you.”
In his reply on Twitter, Mishra (@mishra_pravin) said, “Sure madam, also do appeal to fellow bhakts: Next time you meet a Muslim or a Dalit, please shake hand and say 'India loves you'.” This, apparently, outraged Swaraj, who immediately blocked Mishra “from following @SushmaSwaraj and viewing @SushmaSwaraj’s tweets.”
Reporting on the development, Mishra said in a Facebook post, “Ironically, during the UPA rule, she served as Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha. So much of tolerance in Modi raj! Heil, Mein F├╝hrer!”
Modi critics refer to “bhakts” a group of his diehard supporters, who often flood offensive comments on his critics on the social media. Reports say, there an army of ‘bhakts’ employed across India to do the job.
Blocked on June 8, Mishra’s is not the only twitter account that has been blocked by Swaraj for what may appear to her to be an offensive reaction. She blocked yet another account on June 7.
Reacting sharply to her tweet on shaking hands with Africans, Sam John David (@samiei1) – a post-graduate in control and instrumentation engineering, who calls himself “plural, liberal, secular”, and hails from Tamil Nadu – said: “Madam, remember your racist comment on Sonia Gandhi? What moral authority you have advise other people, when yourself have bigotry?”
The reference is to Swaraj, in a heavily publicized and emotionally charged episode following the 2004 elections when the Congress was set to form the government, threatened to shave her head, don a white saree and eat groundnuts (symbolically mourning) if Sonia, the Italian-born Congress leader, became prime minister.
In another tweet, posted on June 7, David said, “Madam what happened to Lalit Modi humanitarian tourism? Any actions?” Soon thereafter, Sam got a message similar to that of Mishra: That he has been “blocked” from following and viewing @SushmaSwaraj tweets.
Interesting though it may seem, while Swaraj’s tweet on shaking hands with Africans was retweeted by more than 6,700 persons, Mishra’s tweet was retweeted by just about 360 persons. As for David’s tweet, it was not retweeted by anyone, at least till June 8 afternoon.
While it may be difficult to fathom what could be the reason behind Swaraj blocking her critics like this, reports say, she is not in news during the period when Modi is on a whirlwind foreign tour, starting on June 4 and ending on June 10. In fact, a report said, she has been “conspicuously absent” from all the promotional campaigns carried out by the BJP to celebrate her two years in office.
Swaraj’s office reportedly informed the BJP president’s office that she was “not keen on giving interviews or calling a press conference to list her achievements.” A report said, she began “distancing” herself from the media about four years ago, when she was the high profile Opposition Leader in the Lok Sabha. 
Meanwhile, reports have begun appearing in a section of the media that Swaraj is “the most followed female world leader with 5.21 million followers at 10th spot, ahead of Jordan’s @QueenRania who has 4.7 million followers.
Before Modi left on his foreign tour, Swaraj met the family of Congolese national Masunda Kitada Olivier, a 23-year-old post-graduate student in Delhi, who is said to have been beaten to death by a group of men in a brawl over an autorickshaw ride. She refused to accept the killing as a racist attack.
"These were not premeditated acts against a particular community, rather these were spontaneous attacks perpetrated by anti-social and criminal elements,” she said.
Even as Modi reached US, Swaraj took to Twitter to “thank” Qatar for releasing 23 Indian prisoners “on the request of the Prime Minister.” She also thanked Modi, “who visited the nation a few days ago, for his cooperation.”

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