Dabur India is one of the world's leading brands in the Ayurvedic / herbal products space
After jewellery brand Tanishq last year and clothing brands Manyavar and Fabindia this year, consumer goods giant Dabur is the latest to blink in the face of online abuse and veiled threats from BJP leaders.
The company on Tuesday withdrew an advertisement for Karwa Chauth that celebrated inclusivity, equality and a progressive view of marriage, but also triggered a rush of harsh responses, including a crude response from Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra.
In a brief statement Dabur said: "Fem's Karwa Chauth campaign has been withdrawn from social media handles and we unconditionally apologise for unintentionally hurting people's sentiments."
Controversy over Dabur's ad was marked by a shocking statement from the Madhya Pradesh Home Minister this week, who threatened the company - another 'made in India' brand that is a global leader in the Ayurveda and herbal products space - with legal action.
Mishra slammed Dabur for making an ad about "lesbians celebrating Karwa Chauth" and continued: "In future they will show two men taking 'feras' (marrying each other according to Hindu rituals)."
He said police had been told to order the company to withdraw the ad.
"And if it fails to do so, take legal steps after examining the advertisement," he added.
Mishra's comment came shortly after he stopped (just) short of defending violence by right-wing goons on the set of a web series being directed by Prakash Jha and starring Bobby Deol.
The Dabur ad in questions shows two young women discussing the importance of Karwa Chauth and the reason for the celebrating it as they prepare for the night.
The women are then seen facing each other - each with a sieve and a decorated plate - signaling they are partners, after which the Fem logo appears and a voiceover says: "glow with pride".
Dabur's ad was appreciated on social media for its "inclusive" message
The ad was widely appreciated on social media, with one person writing: "Well done, Fem/Dabur! A nice film for a traditional, often-criticized festival by an otherwise conservative brand."
Tellingly, another wrote: "It is great to see that inclusive ads can be made only with Hindu festivals and traditions as Hinduism doesn't discriminate and accepts all."
Unfortunately, bigoted responses followed too; one person wrote: "Why doesn't Dabur or whoever come up with similar ads for Xmas or Eid or any other festival? Why target Hindu festivals?"
The attack on Dabur comes days after Fabindia - yet another globally successful brand that highlights the government's 'made in India' approach - was pilloried for naming its collection 'Jashn-e-Riwaaz'.
That attack was led by Karnataka BJP MP Tejasvi Surya.
Fabindia too has now deleted the advertisement from social media
Tyre manufacturers Ceat Ltd also faced trolling after another Karnataka BJP MP, Anantkumar Hegde, slammed the brand for an "anti-Hindu" message - urging people to celebrate a green Diwali.
In September actor Alia Bhatt's ad for clothing brand Manyavar was trashed because it underlined the importance of gender equality with respect to the 'kanyadaan' marriage tradition.
With input from PTI