The whole fiasco, seemingly settled after Prasad’s prompt action, has heightened the unease surrounding the blatant belligerence displayed by the government’s social media managers. For this is only the latest in a series of such goof-ups.

A few days ago, All India Radio’s Twitter handle waded into an ongoing controversy over the killing of Mahatma Gandhi.

Mocking Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his shifting stands in a defamation case, @airnewsalerts asked: “Why he got scared earlier?”

The case was filed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) against Rahul who had referred to its role in the killing of Mahatma Gandhi. The RSS is the ideological parent of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). While Rahul initially accused it of being involved in the murder, in court he apparently took a softer line and said that he had only spoken about RSS members being involved in the crime and not RSS itself. However, after he was lampooned for going soft, the Congress vice-president reverted to a more aggressive stand and prepared to face trial.

Though the tweet was later deleted, it strengthened the impression that official bodies that ought to stay off politics were being used to promote the government’s ideology and agenda.

A few months ago, the Twitter handle of Startup India, another major Modi government initiative, was caught retweeting something targeted at sections of the Indian media perceived as being critical of the regime. This time, too, it was the Indian Army that was called upon to “take care” of #Presstitutes.

Incidentally, the term #Presstitutes itself was coined by Gen VK Singh, a former Indian Army chief and a current minister of state in the Modi government.

Another disturbing aspect of the trend is the different treatment meted out to the accused depending on their ideological or political hues.

“Interestingly, the authorities have shown far greater resolve when dealing with any hint of violence online when the perpetrator happens to be Muslim,” an article on said on Friday (Sept. 09).

While vile trolls have been around for a while on social media, often given legitimacy by the prime minister himself, the recent tweets show that a few now have government jobs, too.

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