Take a look at the social media highlights of the week.
Source: Rahul Gandhi/Twitter
On Twitter, Rahul Gandhi made an uncontroversial point. The arrest of a journalist in Uttar Pradesh for sharing a video on social media of a woman claiming to have a relationship with the state’s chief minister Yogi Adityanath was high-handed. The “UP CM”, in Rahul’s words, was “behaving foolishly” by not censuring the police on their overzealous arrests. The Editors Guild described it as an “effort to intimidate the press”. The Supreme Court ordered the journalist’s immediate release on bail, citing his right to liberty as non-negotiable. The court also said it did not approve of the journalist’s social media post. But is it necessary for ordinary people to behave with the dignity of institutions? Politicians are public figures. The bar for ‘defamation’ when it comes to public figures must be set extremely high; surely spreading scurrilous rumours and jokes is below that bar. A spokesperson for the state office of the BJP said “objectionable comments against the CM are not acceptable”. This is a ludicrous position. Chief ministers have all the trappings of power; all we have, quinquennial polls aside, is the (considerable) power of ridicule. Unfortunately for poor Rahul, it turns out Congress chief ministers are as thin-skinned as their BJP counterparts. In Karnataka, two men have been arrested for making abusive remarks about the chief minister and his son. It’s true that the chief ministers are not filing the complaints themselves, but there is no shortage of lickspittles (including the UP police apparently) willing to take up cudgels on behalf of offended politicians. Such FIRs must be ignored and politicians reminded, as children on playgrounds are, that words are not sticks and stones. n
Another Angry CM
Source: Shefali Roy/ Twitter
There is no question that the incessant need to commemorate every personal ‘milestone’ with a selfie is irritating. Many middle-aged people might have felt some kinship with Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar for physically rebuffing a young man trying to grab an unasked-for selfie at an event where the CM was being showered with petals. Except, a large part of Khattar’s job is to interact with the public that votes for him. Unasked-for selfies come with the territory. Is anyone going to volunteer to point out to these chief ministers that a little grace and humility go a long way?