Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath has reinstated a school teacher who was suspended for a social media post mocking Rahul Gandhi. The Congress chief, Mr Nath said, forgives opponents who criticise him.
The move comes amid increasing instances of people facing action for posts criticising ministers and political leaders. On Monday, a worker of MDMK in Tamil Nadu was arrested for a derogatory social media post on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Earlier, arrests have been made from Uttar Pradesh and Bengal for "objectionable" posts against the Chief Ministers.
Mr Nath admitted that freedom of expression "does not mean that people insult and disrespect others" and one should maintain the limits of dignity and honour.
But the government action was "improper" as it was "contrary to the perception of Shri Rahul Gandhi," the Chief Minister said in a statement, while revoking the suspension order of Baleshwar Patidar.
The primary school teacher at Talot village of Ratlam had posted objectionable comments on Facebook against the Congress chief.
"Shri Rahul Gandhi has pardoned all the opponents, who criticised him and made statement, objectionable remarks against him. Shri Rahul Gandhi says that their abusive statements against me makes me stronger and help me gain self-confident more," Mr Nath said in his statement.
Last year, Rahul Gandhi had made headlines with his spontaneous hug to Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the floor of the Lok Sabha. "You can abuse me, you can call me Pappu, but I don't have a speck of hatred against you. I will take out this hatred out of you and turn it into love," Mr Gandhi had said, referring to the pejorative rivals use for him.
Earlier this month, Mr Nath had forgiven and reinstated a teacher who used the slur "daaku (robber)" to describe him. Mukesh Tiwari had been suspended by the district officials after a video of his speech at the school meeting was widely circulated.
"I have always been in favour of freedom of expression....the action against him might be correct according to the rules but I am personally forgiving him," the chief minister was quoted as saying on the occasion by news agency Press Trust of India.
Madhya Pradesh, which had given the BJP three straight terms in power, had shifted its mandate to the Congress in the recently held assembly elections. But the party fell a shade short of majority and formed government with the support of Mayawati and Samajwadi chief Akhilesh Yadav.