New Delhi: For the first time perhaps, a senior BJP leader Ram Madhav on Friday came out in defence of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj against the series of trolls against her over the passport row.
“…..the obscenities like calling her (External Affairs Minister) Begum Sushma or worse commenting on her health and kidney — or a retired professor asking her husband to beat her up. All this to a leader who championed the cause of nationalism for over four decades in the rough and tumble of our politics, by those who claim allegiance to the very same ideology,” writes Madhav in a newspaper article.
But there is, however, a twist in the tale as BJP general secretary Mr Madhav in the article suggests that the social media activists “should have taken on the clerics” instead of directing their anguish against Swaraj.
“Unfortunately in this case, a woman who stood up and said I wish to continue as a Hindu has become the villain and the regressive cleric who changed her name to a Muslim became the hero,” writes Madhav in an article for English daily ‘The Indian Express’ referring to the passport row involving Tanvi Seth, who is married for 11 years to a Muslim.
“In Tanvi Seth’s case, while the nikah-nama gives out her name as Shadia, all other documents, including the most basic identity card of every Indian citizen, the Aadhaar card, besides her bank accounts, mention her name as Tanvi Seth. The benefit of doubt, thus, goes in Tanvi Seth’s favour as one who decided to retain her Hindu name even after marrying a Muslim man,” Madhav says.
“The social media activists should have taken on the clerics who insist on writing a different name in the nikahnama, or the officers, who take cognisance of that false document and overrule all other valid documents,” he says.
Mr Madhav, known for his close proximity to RSS leadership and also BJP chief Amit Shah, further writes that instances of individuals – like Tanvi Seth – “retaining their religious identity, even after inter-religious marriages, are numerous”.
“There are many such prominent people in public life, including in the BJP. It is a glorious testimony to the omnitheistic nature of Indian society and culture,” he points out.
The article comes a day after MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar sought to put the debate on passport controversy to rest saying the government or the Ministry of External Affairs had only adhered to the rules and thus there was nothing wrong in issuing passport to Tanvi Seth.
“I would like to categorically state that all existing norms were followed during the issue of passport to Tanvi Seth. I hope this clarifies the matter and puts to rest all misinformation in this regard,” MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar told reporters on Thursday.
Ms Swaraj had come under attack in the social network especially Twitter after the Ministry of External Affairs
had transferred MEA official Vikas Mishra from Lucknow following the controversy.
Media reports earlier claimed that Tanvi Seth and her husband Mohammad Anas Siddiqui had claimed that they were humiliated and abused by the passport officer Vikas Mishra.
The political parties like Congress and AIMIM and leaders like Mamata Banerjee of Trinamool Congress have slammed those who were using abusive language against her.
Lately of course, BJP leaders like Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari also came out in support of Ms Swaraj.
Swaraj wrote a few days back: “In a democracy, difference of opinion is but natural. Pls do criticise but not in foul language. Criticism in decent language is always more effective.”
On the backdrop of this episode vis-a-vis passport row and troll against Sushma Swaraj, Madhav also writes rather acidly: “The golden rule for social media activists should be, “Don’t do unto others that you don’t want done to you”.
“Each word should be weighed properly, with a calm mind, before it is used. If you are angry, don’t come anywhere near Twitter or Facebook. Because a word that is written on these platforms, like an arrow released from the bow, cannot be taken back before it hits somebody”.