Nikhil Dadhich, Ashish Mishra:
The BJP responded to outrage over the PM following Twitter accounts spewing bile against slain journalist Gauri Lankesh, but the trolls are unrepentant.
“A bitch died a dog’s death and now all the puppies are wailing in the same tune,” said the tweet in Hindi, adding to the nationwide revulsion in the aftermath of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh’s murder.
But Nikhil Dadhich, the man behind the controversial tweet who is followed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the micro-blogging site, is unfazed by the uproar he has triggered. “A doggie had died in my street that day, so I wrote the tweet in reference to that,” the 38-year-old Surat-based textile trader told HT.
A torrent of hate tweets that seemed to condone Lankesh’s killing in Bengaluru by unknown assailants on Tuesday night is now a matter of intense debate. The fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi follows Dadhich and three others spewing ‘hatred’ on Twitter has fuelled the row further. Modi, incidentally, follows 1,779 people on Twitter.
But like Dadhich who came to Gujarat from his native Rajasthan some 15 years ago to set up a business, Ashish Mishra is unrepentant. Also followed by Modi, Pune-based Mishra had tweeted shortly after Lankesh’s killing : ’Jaisai Karni, Vaisi Bharni (as you sow, so shall you reap). “I didn’t say anything wrong. She (Lankesh) was with the anti-nationals of JNU, with the azadi gang of Kashmir,” the computer science graduate from IIT Bombay insisted.
Stung by the uproar the tweets sparked, the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) has said the prime minister followed a cross-section of people on Twitter and that his ‘following’ handles did not mean a character certificate for those being followed.
But Dadhich and Mishra are thrilled to be followed by the prime minister. Both are also die-hard Modi fans. “I was inspired by Modi who was very active on social media. I wanted to tell people about how he was working for the development of Gujarat,” said Dadhich who was followed by the prime minister in 2015. He said the prime minister did nothing wrong in following him. “He can’t check everyone’s background before following them. Is Modiji responsible for everything bad that happens in this country?”
Mishra has 17,000 Twitter followers and reiterated his faith in the prime minister. “I had a lot of angst against parties like the Congress and Samajwadi Party that only appeased the minorities. I used to feel that no one cares about the Hindus,” he said. Incidentally, there is speculation that Lankesh could have been killed by a right-wing outfit because of her strident anti-Hindutva views.
Rita Gupta, whose Twitter handle is @RitaG74, is a former All India Radio presenter living in Delhi. She is followed by 12,000 people, including the prime minister. After Lankesh was dead, her tweet said: “For those who don’t know Gauri Lankesh a brief introduction – Leftist, naxal sympathiser, anti-establishment, anti-Hindu”. For Gupta though, her tweet was only to change the current narrative that “conservatives are bad and liberals are good”.