In a major confirmation that Prime Minister Narendra Modi directly backs social media trolls who use abusive words against anyone criticizing him, BJP's top dissident leader Arun Shourie has said, Modi had “a reception for them” after they abused him for being critical of Modi in a TV interview with Karan Thapar.
Shourie said this an interview with Swati Chaturvedi, done about six months as part of her research for the book “I am a Troll” in response to the question as to how he felt when pro-Modi trolls abused him and his son, who suffers from cerebral palsy. The trolls had gone so far as to say that Shourie deserved his son's illness as his “karma” for criticizing Modi.
Worse, Shourie reveals in the interview, published in thewire.in, that one can receive “the same fellows in the Prime Minister’s official residence”. One of them has been made “the chief of the BJP’s IT cell”, he says. Calling pro-Modi abuse online attacks “obviously … a governmental operation, a party operation”, he underlines, the trolls are “one of the many instruments being used to silence voices in the whole country.”
Characterizing what is happening in India today “a decentralized emergency”, where a “decentralized mafia state” operates, with “local goons” belabouring “anyone" who they think are doing something wrong. “The central people provide a rationale for the goondas at the local level, like gau rakshaks”, providing “rationale … to beat up anybody”, he adds.
The “big difference” with Indira Gandhi's emergency of 1975-77 and the one under Modi is that, says Shourie, while Gandhi “used” law, Modi doesn't. “Now it is not law. These people are acting outside law. This is true fascism”, he insists.
“All this action is being done outside the government, worse, things are being done inside the government to choke the existing laws – for instance the Right to Information (RTI) is being choked, the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is being denigrated unless it’s in your favour”, notes Shourie.
Not just this, he says, “The judiciary is being denigrated, therefore you keep the vacancies going the same way, probably about a hundred vacancies. The judiciary keeps saying, and these people keep denying on one ground or another.”
“Anybody who opposes Modi is immediately embroiled in cases – like Pradeep Sharma, IAS official in Gujarat, and Teesta Setalvad”, says Shourie, adding, the same is being done with NGOs, who are being “put in the dock" and then are "intimidated and troubled.”
Shourie says, Modi refuses to “control” his ministers like Mahesh Sharma, as also “important party figures”, and here there is “a clear pattern”: “A statement is made, an incident is created. A campaign is launched. He remains silent. Everybody says, please speak. When the campaign has been milked or that abuse has been milked, then at last, three months later, he makes some ambiguous statement, like motherhood is good.”
Saying that Modi “will do anything to win elections”, Shourie says, whether it is Muzaffarnagar killings, or what happened in Kashmir, a situation is created in which the Muslims are being “reminded” that there is no place “for them here.”
Things have gone so far, says Shourie, that Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal “has been led to conclude” that he will be killed, and there are people who are “asking for his murder”, adding, “And those are persons being encouraged by Modi."