01, Apr 2019 | SabrangIndia Staff
Tejasvi Surya, 28, the BJP’s MP candidate from Bengaluru South has courted controversy ever since his candidacy was announced. In a latest development, a brief video on Facebook shows him declaring, “This election is a test of the common Indian’s patriotism, and if you are with Modi, you are with India, if you are not with Modi, you are anti-India, that’s it.” Following this remark, applause can be heard.
Surya seems to overlook entirely that the purpose of periodic elections is not, in fact, a way to hold a referendum on the country’s public’s “patriotism,” but, in fact, a test of the calibre and performance of the country’s public servants. Moreover, his parroting of the “anti-national” rhetoric that has been levelled at any Indian who dares disagree with, or dissent against the Prime Minister and the current central government makes Surya a candidate of whom the public must be increasingly wary. Per the Bangalore Mirror, the Congress party has already filed a complaint with the Election Commission against Surya, “for his alleged remark that those who are not supporters of Prime Minster Narendra Modi are ‘anti-India'”.
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This remark isn’t the sole instance of Surya exhibiting his seemingly authoritarian tendencies. On March 29, a Bengaluru court granted Surya a temporary injunction on the reporting of “defamatory” news about him. The court order prohibits 49 organisations, including English and Kannada newsletters, television stations, as well as major social media platforms like WhatsApp, Google and Facebook from publishing “false, malicious and derogatory” news about Surya, the Indian Express reported. The court stated “It appears that some of the prima facie defamatory messages pertaining to him is in transit in the media’’ adding that “the plaintiff has produced a copy of a Twitter publication that is called ‘Me too case against Tejaswi Surya’”. The court noted that “though defendants have freedom of speech and expression, that cannot violate the human dignity of life of any citizen,” The News Minute reported, noting that this may be the first time in Karnataka that an electoral candidate has sought a gag order on the media.
On March 28, the Deccan Herald had reported that a businesswoman and Twitter user Dr. Som Dutta posted a series of tweets, since deleted, in which she accused Surya “of being a ‘womaniser, abuser and woman beater’ and asked people if they wanted to ‘blindly support him'”. Dutta alleged that “for over 5 years I have suffered at his hand till I decided to make it stop by taking up serious measures.” The Karnataka Congress shared screenshots of her tweets, and posted, “Is @Tejasvi_Surya another MJ Akbar in the making? Dear @BJP4India , @Tejasvi_Surya seems to be a great choice. #BangaloreSouth will remember. #MeToo#LokSabhaPolls2019”. However, after Dutta’s tweets went viral, she deleted them, and then tweeted a plea to “leave Tejasvi and Me alone,” adding, “We both come from very good families and lot of people will get hurt if we drag this further.” She later tweeted that she was “saddened” that her “personal tweets addressed to 2 people I met in the past” had been turned into a “political campaign”.
In response, Surya said, “Dr Som Dutta is a close friend of mine. She herself deleted the tweets that were against me. Further, she has also requested everybody not to continue this any further. As a gentleman, it is my utmost duty to respect her words and I will not continue this any further,” the Deccan Herald reported.
Surya’s counsel has sent a notice to media outlets stating, “Our client has instituted the suit against all of you… restraining you from publishing defamatory, derogatory publications as against our client,” The News Minuted reported. “Needless to state here that any violation of the interim order would render you liable for serious repercussions and consequences thereof. In the view of the foregoing, you are not at liberty to publish any scandalous and defamatory statements or any fake news as against our Client,” the notice states.
This article was first published on SabrangIndia.