Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh came out in support of his cabinet colleague Sushma Swaraj on Monday, saying trolling her on Twitter was "wrong". Asked if he advised action against those who were targeting the minister, he remained silent. Mr Singh is the only minister to show support to Ms Swaraj, who has been backed up on this issue by opposition leader Mamata Banerjee and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti.
Ms Swaraj has been facing the brunt of a vicious attack on Twitter after her ministry gave clearance for the passport of an inter-faith couple and took action against an official who allegedly harassed them.
Claiming that she away when it happened, the minister had posted a poll on twitter, asking users if they "approve" of such trolling -- 43 per cent said yes and 57 per cent no. Her response intensified the attack and one user even advised her husband Swaraj Kaushal to thrash her.
Asked to comment on the issue on Monday, Mr Singh said, "In my opinion, it is wrong". Asked if he spoke to her to extend support, the minister said, "I speak to her daily". He added that he would not "want to be seen standing alone on this issue... so do not want to comment further".
Mr Singh so far the only minister from the BJP to back up Ms Swaraj, who, before this incident, received much support and respect on Twitter for her readiness to help anyone facing problems. Many ministers conceded in private that the offensive language used against foreign minister deserves action. Some admitted that they did not want to be seen aligning with her.
On Sunday, Ms Swaraj tweeted, "In a democracy, difference of opinion is but natural. Pls do criticise but not in foul language. Criticism in decent language is always more effective."
The Congress was quick to respond to her statement, saying, "No matter what the situation or reason, nothing calls for threats of violence, disrespect and abuse. Sushma Swaraj ji, we applaud your decision to call out the heinous trolls of your own party."
Earlier, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted:
Strongly condemn the language used on the social media against @sushmaswaraj Ji . She is a senior politician. We must respect each other and must never indulge in any form of verbal abuse— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) July 2, 2018
PDP's Mehbooba Mufti has also strongly condemned the comments against Ms Swaraj.
Horrified by the vicious trolling @SushmaSwaraj ji has been subjected to . Absolutely outrageous! If our own Minister of External Affairs is not spared, what hope is there for any other woman?— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) July 1, 2018
The home ministry has a separate wing which looks into issues relating to cybercrime and online content appearing on social media. An official, however, said the wing looks after "policy matters and does not deal with individual cases. That's the prerogative of state governments".
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