Friday, January 06, 2017

BJP's IT cell organized hatred against Gandhi, "Muslim" actors, journos: Second ex-party volunteer

By Our Representative
Following Swati Chaturvedi’s book “I Am a Troll”, which created unprecedented flutter for pointing out how the social media cell of BJP would spread hatred, yet another ex-BJP volunteer has declared how the cell worked for continuously  spreading online “hate directed at minorities, some journalists, and anyone else who has opposing views”.
Sadhavi Khosla, who worked as a volunteer in the National Digital Operations Centre (NDOC), BJP’s digital-campaign wing, for nearly two years till late 2015, and was in direct touch with NDOC bosses, including Arvind Gupta, national convenor of BJP’s IT cell, says in an interview, she witnessed firsthand “the way BJP has used” social media “negatively.”
Khosla as says she was part of the “trolls” against celebrities such as Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan as well as journalists such as Rajdeep Sardesai and Barkha Dutt, revealing how, after Aamir Khan commented in November 2015 on intolerance, the cell ran a campaign to ensure that he was ousted from his role as the brand ambassador of Snapdeal, the e-commerce platform.
Admitting that she was attracted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi after Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement, Khosla says, she was “apolitical” till 2014, but registered her voter ID card and chose to vote at then.
She says, writing has been her passion, and her comments on Twitter about the UPA’s failures caught the BJP’s attention, adding, this ultimately led her to get enrolled to work in the Mission 272+ website, the BJP’s campaign for the 2014 elections.
One whom, she claims, Modi has been following on Twitter since then, Khosla points to how pro-Modi trolls “hated and abused” Mahatma Gandhi, “the only man I follow after God”, something that was “very disillusioning.”
An MBA with a corporate background, Khosla says, at that time “everyone was very keen on bringing Modi into power”. Calling Modi a “great marketer” who “sold the Gujarat model” to the BJP’s social media army, she provides instance of how NDOC bosses would direct her, though “direct WhatsApp message”, to work for “asking people to sign the petition to remove Aamir Khan from the Snapdeal campaign.”
When Barkha Dutt’s book came “This Unquiet Land” was released in December 2015, Khosla says, the entire WhatsApp group “was full of posts and plans to make sure that her book was a flop. It is not like anybody was made to tweet in any particular way. There would be targets and agenda, and the volunteers and employees would themselves go out and tweet.”
Khosla reveals, the campaigns against Shah Rukh Khan, Barkha Dutt, Aamir Khan and Rajdeep Sardesai made her disillusioned with NDOC’s work, adding, “Their policy was that they would bring down opponents and people with differing views to such a low level, and present themselves as larger than life.”
“For me, the biggest shocker was that suddenly Aamir and Shah Rukh Khan – among people like my friends, who are apolitical – have become Muslims. I have watched the actors while growing up, and they were our stars. I never thought of them as Muslims”, she concludes.

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