On Sunday, Narendra Modi personally thanked a cartoonist on Twitter who had drawn a sketch of the prime minister. The artwork was inspired by Modi’s rally in Mangaluru, ahead of the upcoming state elections in Karnataka, where the Bharatiya Janata Party is working hard to unseat the Congress government.
The cartoonist, Kshitij Bajpai, regularly updates his Twitter profile with examples of his work and has weighed in on several topical matters, such as the Kathua and Unnao rapes and the cash-crunch in several Indian states. Pro-Modi and anti-Congress cartoons are another common thread.
But worryingly, many of his works have sexist and communal undertones. An example of this is an imaginary conversation between a Hindu and a Muslim.
The man depicted as a Muslim in this cartoon appears to be a character in several of Bajpai’s other works.
The outrage after the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, Jammu, and attempts to obfuscate the details of the crime have also featured in Bajpai’s work (illustrations not included here as they use the young girl’s name). The cartoonist seemingly aligns with Right-leaning factions who have tried to dismiss the protests against the Kathua rape as a case of selective outrage, aimed at bringing down the image of Hindus. Some of these cartoons also attack actresses who had expressed anguish at the rape, with one of them referring to an actress as a “Bollywood prostitute”, and another one, not included here, individually naming many of them including #SonamKapoor,#SwaraBhaskar, #HumaKureshi, #KareenaKapoorKhan, #RichaChaddha.
In the past, several publications have criticised Modi for following people on Twitter who have turned out to be trolls. His party has defended this saying that the prime minister believes in freedom of speech, does not unfollow anyone, and that his decision to follow someone on social media is not to be viewed as a character certificate of that person.