Is India's "sidelined" foreign minister Sushma Swaraj at loggerheads with right-wing pro-Narendra Modi trolls, who make no stone unturned in attacking anyone criticizing the Prime Minister on the popular micro blogging site Twitter? It would seem so, if what is being termed as her recent "kneejerk responses" to some of the pro-Modi twitterati is any indication.
Pointing out that she has gone so far as to block some of these trolls, the well-known site altnews.com, known to be keeping a close watch on Twitter trends, says, this has happened ever since "India tightened its visa policy for Pakistani nationals... Many Pakistanis have approached Swaraj on Twitter for help with acquiring medical visa on humanitarian grounds."
"The fact that she has been equanimous and considerate in her approach has earned her the ire of many right-wing twitterati, terming her 'Medical Mata' and 'Visa Mata'. The recent treatment of Kulbhushan Jadav’s family by Pakistan further aggravated matters", an article by Sam Jawed, objecting to the minister's behaviour, says, even as quoting several instances.
Jawed says, "Her assistance to Pakistani citizens ... earned her the ire of her right wing supporters and made her a target of incessant trolling with tweets like, 'Those who promised to bring us ten heads in retaliation for one are distributing visas to our enemy state', 'You criticise or trash Medical Mata @SushmaSwaraj, you will be instantly blocked by her... even though she's a public offficer…'”
Hmmm Expected pic.twitter.com/rcYv1eRyzM— Freelance bhakt (@ExSecular) December 26, 2017
The "attackers" on Twitter have called Swaraj's "daily routine of tweeting medical visas" as becoming "embarrassing now", even as insisting that "her responses are usually in cases with good PR potential" having "no accountability", and there is "no good reason for her to be behaving like a consular officer."
One of those who has been blocked by Swaraj (Prasun Maitra@prasunmaitra) has tweeted, "I am proud to be blocked by a minister who seeks votes from secessionists in exchange of compromised foreign policy. She is a stigma on @narendramodi government". He even provides a screenshot of the blocking message from Twitter. And Namrata@_Namrataa tweets, "Achievement unlocked: Sushma ji blocked me thanks to people tagging her in replies perhaps".
A pro-Modi Twitter enthusiast, @namo_satya, complains, "Respected @PMOIndia @narendramodi ji, Ma'am Sushma Swaraj ji blocked me for no reason. If I require any help then to whom shall I contact? She is free to issue medical visa to Pakistanis but why to block Indian citizens?", adding, "This approach is not appreciable from External Affairs Minister of India."
Twitterati have variously said, "No processes, just minister's whims... They should open a medical visa department instead", "Is there any other external affairs minister in world who issues visas at Twitter? Modiji needs to give some real work to Sushma Swaraj", and "After three years in office, why isn’t she able to set up a system that works without the need of her intervention in every case? She appears to be more accessible to Pakistanis than their own government..."
Notes Jawed, "Swaraj runs a very popular Twitter handle with close to 11 million followers. Many people reach out to her via twitter. Lost a passport in a foreign country? Need to travel on an emergency? Need consular access on a holiday? Whatever the issue for Indian citizens abroad, Swaraj was always a click away, resolving problems with a warm, personal touch."
He adds, "Though her personal intervention in individual cases won her much acclaim, she also invited criticism from those who argued that her talent was severely underutilized in the ministry... Ironically many of those who are mocking Swaraj and have been blocked by her are staunch supporters of her own party, some even followed by Modi on Twitter."