New Delhi: Former union minister Arun Shourie has said that he has been the target of severe abuse online by BJP supporters ever since he turned a critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mr Shourie, a one-time admirer of Mr Modi, also said that the BJP supporters did not even spare his son, who has cerebral palsy.
"If you gave me an opportunity to read the kind of abuse that has been hurled at me and my handicapped son, your viewers will be horrified," Mr Shourie told NDTV, citing one such insensitive remark. "They wrote, 'Iska mental son hai, woh aur bhi mental banega.' These damned fools are followed by the PM on the social media," he said.
A visibly upset Mr Shourie made the remarks during a discussion on the perception that the BJP's election campaign in Bihar was negative and often divisive. "The result of this election has been that the direction the country was being hurled, which was division, which was abuse, has been blocked by the people of Bihar."
Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, a senior BJP leader who was also present on the panel, condemned the online abuse, saying it was regrettable. "It really is very painful to know that there were certain kind of remarks on the social media," Mr Sahasrabuddhe said, adding that PM Modi had warned against hate speech in his interactions with supporters on social media.
"Narendra Modi, while interacting with the BJP supporters, very clearly told them that they have to mind their language. Social media is not a platform for spreading hatred," he said, referring to the PM's meeting with 150 'social media influencers' in July this year.
But Mr Shourie alleged that several of these 'influencers' were abusive on Twitter, and that despite their continuing abuse, the PM followed them on the micro-blogging site.