Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday condemned the torrent of online hate that his cabinet colleague Sushma Swaraj has faced over the last week.
Swaraj was trolled and abused on Twitter after a regional passport officer in Lucknow was transferred for allegedly harassing an inter-faith couple. On June 24, Sushma Swaraj had “liked” some abusive tweets against her over the transfer of the passport officer. The posts were written while Swaraj was on a week-long visit to Europe, and after she returned, she said she felt “honoured” that a few Twitter users had targeted her over the controversy.
“This is very unfortunate,” Gadkari, the minister of road transport and highway, told reporters. “She wasn’t present in the country when this decision was taken. She has no connection with it and the decision isn’t wrong either.”
Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan also condemned the campaign against Swaraj. “She is a very senior parliamentarian and we must respect each other,” he said on Twitter.
Gadkari and Paswan’s comments came a day after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condemned the abusive messages.
Meanwhile, Swaraj on Tuesday blocked a follower on Twitter after she questioned her role in the passport row. Sonam Mahajan, who tweets from the handle AsYouNotWish said she was waiting for Swaraj to block her. In response, the minister said, “Intezaar kyon? Lijiye block kr diya (Why wait? Here, you are now blocked)”.
A Twitter poll started by Sushma Swaraj, asking whether users approve of such tweets. The poll showed that 57% of the respondents did not approve of the abusive tweets but as many as 43% of people said they supported these actions.
In response, she wrote on Twitter on Sunday: “In a democracy, difference of opinion is but natural. Please do criticise but not in foul language. Criticism in decent language is always more effective.”