On Thursday, Bhagat wrote an article for Dainik Bhaskar in which he attempts what he calls an anthropological description of "bhakts". He describes them as political supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party who are especially fond of Narendra Modi, but draws a line between those who agree with the prime minister's policies like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (of whom, presumably, Bhagat is one) and those who are real bhakts.
These people, he claims, are all men, are unsure of their English, they don't know how to talk to women, and try to mask their shame about India being a "third world" country with chest-thumping nationalism. That, he says, is why the sharpest targets of their rage is women who are fluent in English and who oppose Modi.
The author, who has 5.2 million followers on the website, is likely unable to open Twitter without seeing hundreds of mentions, half of which agree with him, another half that disagree with everything and that one person who just wants to say hi.
@chetan_bhagat ..hi sir.. Raj is here.. I have read ur story revolution 2020.. And i have a question... Pls will u hlp me to solve it... Pls
— Patel Raj M. (@Raj10897) July 9, 2015
So it was no surprise that his latest article set off a flurry of reactions.
Bhagat’s rant against right-wing trolls might seem surprising given that he has even posted selfies with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the recipient of much bhakt adulation. However, he has taken care to keep his distance since then. In February, he even wrote to Modi with advice on how he should loosen up a little and watch movies in his free time.
There have been signs of this particular storm for a little over a week now.
Supporting a political party doesn't mean supporting all their mistakes and giving them blind support. Voters and disciples are different.
— Chetan Bhagat (@chetan_bhagat) July 1, 2015
But when it came, Bhagat outdid himself.
In addition to claiming that real bhakts have problems dealing with women, Bhagat had much to say about their lack of fluency in English. Bhagat's fixation on English is well known. While promoting the release of his latest book Half Girlfriend, he claimed that educated women do not date men who don't speak English.)
Predictably, that didn't go down so well.
Dear @chetan_bhagat I am a BJP supporter, I speak good English, and have read far better novels than what you write pic.twitter.com/k30pIu97yF
— Ratnakar Sadasyula (@ScorpiusMaximus) July 9, 2015
Chetan Bhagat took Einstein's "Imagination is more important than knowledge" quote too seriously and started imagining knowledge in himself
— The Bad Doctor (@doctoratlarge) July 10, 2015
Here's my reply to @chetan_bhagat Request all Internet Hindus to RT it so he reads it @upma23 #1YearOfShah pic.twitter.com/yaJG1htcS2
— Truth Prevails (@Anurag4Bharat) July 9, 2015
Dear moron @chetan_bhagat. Im a woman. I spprt BJP. Im a bhakt.I speak excllnt english.n I threw "one night at a call centre" in the dustbin
— Vande Mataram (@UnSubtleDesi) July 9, 2015
Bhagat seems to be an equal opportunity offender. His pontification on everything from whether women should make rotis at home to how Israel’s bombing of Gaza in July 2014 was justified has received consistent flak from left liberals.
Now that it’s the turn of the right to splutter in outrage, his regular critics sat back, amused at the vitriol he was gathering without any help from them.
Hey @chetan_bhagat, What was going through your mind when you posed like this? Seriously. pic.twitter.com/gH8zQXTLD5
— Diptakirti Chaudhuri (@diptakirti) July 10, 2015
Chetan Bhagat has shifted the debate on Indian nationalism from Marx to Freud. Truly seminal achievement
— Madhavan Narayanan (@madversity) July 10, 2015