Sushma wages lone battle online

Sushma wages lone battle online

Minister, husband get no support from party, Cabinet against vicious abuse

After being targeted by Twitter users for more than a week, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has only her husband and former Governor, Swaraj Kaushal, to come to her defence, with the government and the ruling BJP declining to comment on the issue.

Reacting to a tweet from a social media user suggesting violence against Ms. Swaraj, Mr. Kaushal wrote that his words had given him and the External Affairs Minister’s family “unbearable pain”.

“We adore her. Please do not use such words for her. We are first generation in law and politics. We pray for nothing more than her life,” he appealed. The user, identifying himself as Mukesh Gupta, a graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, who had told Mr. Kaushal he should “beat [Ms. Swaraj] up” and “teach her not to do [minority] appeasement”, has since deleted his account.

According to sources, has received several complaints about the tweet, which are being processed.

Starts Twitter poll

A Twitter poll started by Ms. Swaraj asking users whether they “approve” of the trolling she has faced since reports of an inter-faith couple who alleged harassment at the passport office emerged on June 20, found that 43% of the responders said they “approved”.

Tweets criticising the Ministry’s action to grant a passport to the couple and transferring the official without holding a proper inquiry began to grow subsequently, and soon turned into abuse targeting Ms. Swaraj.

Despite the severity of the online attack, Ms. Swaraj has found no support from her Cabinet or party colleagues. The Hindu reached out to BJP leaders, including the IT cell in-charge Amit Malviya for comments, but drew no response amid reports that many of the accounts posting abusive tweets belonged to party supporters, and were followed by members; none have tweeted or issued statements in her favour.

“Horrified by the vicious trolling @SushmaSwaraj ji has been subjected to,” former J&K Chief Minister and former BJP ally Mehbooba Mufti tweeted on Sunday.

(With inputs from Jagriti Chandra and Nistula Hebbar)

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