Former Maharashtra chief minister and BJP leader, Devendra Fadnavis, has questioned the "mental state and stability" of the Shiv Sena-led state government for promising a probe into several celebrities tweeting last week the centre's response to American singer Rihanna, who had tweeted on the farmers' agitation.
"Has this MVA (the ruling alliance) government lost all its senses? It should feel ashamed while using the word 'probe' for Bharat Ratnas (those who received India's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna)? Actually, now it seems necessary to probe the mental state and stability of the ones who made such demand and of people who ordered probe against our Bharat Ratnas," Mr Fadnavis said in an outburst on Twitter.
The pop star's tweet on the months-long agitation against three farm laws had triggered a global outpouring of remarks over the centre's handling of the protests. A number of celebrities, political leaders and activists -- including Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, Meena Harris, an American lawyer and niece of US Vice President Kamala Harris, actor Amanda Cerni, singers Jay Sean, Dr Zeus and former adult star Mia Khalifa - tweeted on the matter.
The central government, in an unprecedented reaction to a foreign celebrity, had issued an official response. "...Before rushing to comment on such matters, we would urge that the facts be ascertained, and a proper understanding of the issues at hand be undertaken," it said, adding, "The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible".
Several Indian actors, politicians and sports personalities - including Akshay Kumar, Saina Nehwal, Ajay Devgn, Karan Johar - had tweeted on the controversy, saying India's sovereignty couldn't be compromised and the government had the protest situation under control. Many had also shared the centre's statement.
Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar - Bharat Ratna recipients from Maharashtra - were among those who tweeted over the matter. "External forces can be spectators but not participants. Indians know India and should decide for India," Mr Tendulkar had written.
Mr Fadnavis, in a taunt at the ruling Shiv Sena, which often raises issues linked to Maratha pride, today tweeted: "Disgusting and highly deplorable! Where is your Marathi Pride now? Where is your Maharashtra Dharma? We will never find such 'ratnas' (gems) in entire Nation who order probe against Bharat Ratnas, who always stand strong in one voice for our Nation".
Leaders of Maharashtra Congress had sought an investigation into whether the celebrities were under BJP pressure to post responses on social media in support of the central government.
"It has been revealed that there were the same posts by celebrities and at the same time. Hence it will be investigated why it has happened," Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said today.