Bharatiya Janata Party Spokesperson Nupur Sharma on Monday night registered a police complaint against journalist Rana Ayyub for what she called a “defamatory, hate-filled and derogatory” tweet about the National Democratic Alliance’s presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind. Ayyub had said of the BJP’s choice: “And you thought Pratibha Patil was the worst bet.”
A copy of Sharma’s complaint, which was circulated by the BJP on Twitter, said that Ayyub’s tweet reflected an “extremely casteist, hateful and disrespectful mindset” against the scheduled castes, which Kovind has long represented. The complaint added that Ayyub directly undermined “the abilities and position in society of a member of the scheduled castes” and was “blatant and scurrilously slanderous and casteist”. The complaint asks for Ayyub to be booked under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Prevention of Atrocities Act.
In 2016, Ayyub had faced backlash from right-wing trolls and conservative groups for her self-published work of investigative journalism, Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover Up. The book comprised transcripts of a sting operation she had conducted while working for Tehelka magazine on the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat riots.
On Monday, the NDA had named Kovind, the governor of Bihar, its candidate after a Parliamentary Board meeting. The 71-year-old was a Supreme Court lawyer as well as the former president of the BJP’s SC/ST Morcha from 1998 to 2002. He also served as the president of the All India Koli Samaj, an organisation that represents the interests of the Koli community, which is classified as a Scheduled Caste in Uttar Pradesh.
The presidential elections will be held in July.