New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi "has never blocked or unfollowed anyone on Twitter" and his following someone is "not a character certificate", his party said today after accounts followed by Mr Modi posted vicious and abusive messages celebrating or justifying the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh.
The Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party of Arvind Kejriwal said the BJP's explanation is transparent. "While we fight trolls, PM Modi ignites them," said the Congress in a statement.
Since yesterday, a section of social media has outraged over the fact that the PM has not stopped following the people who vilified Ms Lankesh after her murder on Tuesday night. #BlockNarendraModi was a trending topic on Twitter today. The PM's tracking of certain accounts "is not in any way a guarantee of how a person would conduct himself", the BJP's IT cell said in a statement. The party also said that Mr Modi has not unfollowed either Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal despite his abusive comments about the premier or Rahul Gandhi despite his being accused of a corruption scam.
Ms Lankesh, a fierce advocate of secularism and a frequent critic of right-wing ideology was killed at her home in Bengaluru. Some of those who attacked her on Twitter after the killing claim close ties to BJP leaders.
Nikhil Dadhich (@nikhildadhich), who is still followed by the PM, used cuss words in reference to her - the post was later deleted. Ashish Mishra (@aashish81us), who was followed by IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, tweeted that Ms Lankesh deserved to die.
The minister last night described the posts as "deplorable" and said "I strongly condemn them." He no longer follows Mr Mishra.