IndianSpice

Exposing Narendra Modi’s Troll Army

Sadhavi Khosla, is a 37-year-old marketing professional who spent two years as a full-time volunteer with the cell but stepped down after she was ordered to tweet “slanderous claims” about prominent Indian journalists and Bollywood celebrities.

While Aamir Khan’s blockbuster ‘Dangal’ breaks the box office records and patriotic Indian’s stand up as a mark of respect during the Indian national anthem, Narendra Modi is playing dirty tricks with the Khans of Bollywood.

Aamir Khan was on the receiving end of a slew of insults after his comments on growing intolerance in the country. Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who currently are the ruling party ran a scathing campaign to cripple the star’s position commercially.

 

These allegations have come to light after a former volunteer at the BJP’s social media or IT Cell as it is known – had broke ranks. Following Khan’s intolerance remarks that upset the Modi government, Khan was dropped as brand ambassador by Snapdeal, an Indian e-commerce firm.

“I have submitted proof of [the then] BJP IT Cell chief Arvind Gupta’s message sent to me personally to boycott Snapdeal because Aamir Khan was its brand ambassador,” she told Al Jazeera.

“When a message from IT Cell comes from the party, it automatically becomes official party line.”

Khosla’s account is being published in a book titled I Am A Troll, written by journalist Swati Chaturvedi.

Khan was also dropped as the face of India’s tourism (“Incredible India”) campaign, but the government denied that his comments on the issue of growing intolerance were the reason.

However, Manohar Parrikar, India’s defence minister and a senior BJP leader, suggested at a public function later that Khan was taught a lesson.

Khosla says that the two Khans – Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan – part of the triumvirate of Khans that also includes Salman Khan – were targeted for “whatever comments they made”.

“For 25 years, I grew up watching their movies. For me they are my superstars, they are the biggest Bollywood stars,” she said.

“Suddenly after Modi came to power I realised that they are being targeted as Muslim actors.”

The BJP did not respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment on the book, but Arvind Gupta, who runs the party’s IT cell, dismissed Khosla’s claims and told the Indian Express that she “supports the Congress”, the BJP’s opposition party. He also said that the author of the book had “vested interests” and said that the BJP “never encouraged trolling.”

Update: Arvind Gupta issued the following statement to BuzzFeed News: “Swati Chaturvedi has written a one-sided book and is a work of fiction, where none of us have been interviewed or asked to comment. I have not read the book but from media reports it seems to bank upon claims of one person called Sadhavi Khosla who works for the [opposition party] Congress as the basis of her fictitious allegations. The BJP has never undertaken any paid or unpaid trolling of any sort.”

Khosla has since denied any links with the Congress party in a tweet.

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Source Input: Al-Jazeera, Indian Express, Buzzfeed