As Indian diplomats on Sunday scrambled to contain the fall-out of disparaging remarks about Prophet Muhammad by now-suspended Bharatiya Janata Party national spokesperson Nupur Sharma, calling her and another spokesperson “fringe elements”, the irony was not lost on Twitter users.

Sharma’s remarks against the Prophet, made during a debate on the Times Now television channel on May 26, have drawn strong condemnation from the Muslim countries of Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Naveen Kumar Jindal, the party’s media unit in Delhi, was also expelled for his provocative tweets about the Prophet.

Faced with criticism about the statements of the BJP spokespeople, India’s ambassadors to Qatar and Kuwait both claimed that these did not reflect the position of the Indian government but were the view of “fringe elements”.

The ruling BJP suspended Sharma by Sunday afternoon. But Twitter users pointed out that Sharma was anything but marginal.

Some posted photographs of Sharma in the company of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior party members. Another observed that she was followed on Twitter by Union Ministers including Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh and other major party leaders.

Cartoonist Satish Acharya noted that the attempt to label vitriolic remarks about Muslims and other minorities as the views of “fringe elements” was odd, given that hate speech has been enabled by the ruling party.

Satish Acharya cartoon

Another offered the BJP a dictionary definition of the word “spokesperson”.

Journalist Rajdeep Sardesai flaunted his new haircut.