ASHUTOSH SHARMA

| @aashu_ashu | April 8,2019

CHOWKIDAR Tejasvi Surya is the youngest Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) contestant for the ensuing Lok Sabha elections. The 28-year-old lawyer has been fielded from Bangalore South constituency.

While his candidature reportedly caused heartburn among sections of the local party leaders and the workers, the “new Narendra Modi in the making” was absolutely ecstatic after hearing the announcement.

 

 

To ensure that the party puts up a united face in the upcoming polls, BJP national president Amit Shah was quick to pay a flash visit to the constituency and set the house in order. Shah also held a road show to campaign for party’s youngest saffron star.

Jeet kar aavo, beta (Return as a victor, son)!” Surya wrote on Twitter, soon after posting a selfie with the “president of world’s largest political party”, and gushed that “These words of my party president Sri @AmitShah are reverberating in my ears.”

“If at 25 an IAS or IPS officer can become DC’s (district collector) and SP (superintendent of police). If a person can become captain of the Indian cricket team at 26 and that age people can become start-up CEOs then a 28-year old can become the voice of Modi’s young new India,” Surya was quoted as saying during the roadshow.

RSS activist

 

An activist of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) since childhood, Surya is said to have got the ticket because of the Hindu nationalist organisation’s backing. During his college days, he worked as the state secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, a student organisation and an RSS affiliate. Later, he went on to become general secretary of the BJP Youth Wing, Karnataka.

A self-proclaimed “committed ambassador of Prime Minister Narendra Modi”, Surya has been in the news ever since he filed his nomination papers. While he is being hailed as new Hindutva icon—who talks about development issues and speaks fluent English—many others have been campaigning against him feverishly, urging citizens of Bengaluru South not to vote for him.

 

 

Soon after his nomination, he got an ex parte injunction from a city civil court in Bengaluru against the publication of “defamatory statements” in The Times of India and 48 others print, TV, radio and social media platforms including YouTube until the upcoming general elections are over.

Gag on the media

 

Surya had contended that 49 outlets, including English and Kannada print and electronic media besides other digital platforms such as Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Twitter had published a series of articles and social media posts about #MeToo allegations against him.

Ironically, none of the media houses has made any attempt to challenge the order so far, sources said, wondering if this is how an independent media functions in a democratic country.

Stressing that the prior restraint order on press secured from court by BJP’s young candidate in Bengaluru is against free speech, an editorial in The Indian Express dated April 2, “Lift the gag”, reads: “The freedom to express and publish protects Tejasvi Surya’s proudly pinned tweet: ‘If you are with Modi, you are with India. If you are not with Modi, then you are strengthening anti-India forces.’ The Constitution that protects this hateful and divisive tweet is the same one that doesn’t allow gagging of the press. If only the young man knew.”

 

 

Another editorial, Surya injunction untenable, in the Deccan Herald, dated April 5, 2019, argued that “As a candidate and a person in public life, he should have faced the charges or replied to them as many others in his position have done or are doing.”

“The statements which the judge prevented from being made and Surya wanted to be blacked out are especially relevant because he is seeking public office. Blocking such information now might also amount to interference in the poll process. Any information about the candidate is of public interest. Surya can respond to such information after it is made public,” the editorial read, adding, “But pre-censorship is illegal and insidious and the instinct to go for it is authoritarian and dangerous. Surya has actually invited questions and created doubts about himself by refusing to submit to public scrutiny.”

He (Surya) starts his public career with a cloud hanging over his head and on a wrong and ominous note, the editorial remarked.

Many believe that Surya’s legal skills must have undoubtedly helped him in getting a blanket injunction order. It is possibly because of the same quality that his party awarded him a ticket to contest parliamentary elections as lawyers hold important positions in the BJP, they add.

Paradoxically, a few days ago, during an interview with The New Indian Express, he had espoused freedom of speech and self-censorship when it comes to social media. Watch the interview here:

 

 

Incidentally, a similar ex parte restraint against The Wire, in response to the two suits filed by BJP MP and businessman Rajeev Chandrasekhar over articles alleging a conflict of interest between his political and business careers, was lifted by a court in February.

But despite injunction order in his case, there are several tweets—that stink of sexism and communal bigotry—returning to haunt him from nowhere else but his own Twitter history.

In a tweet from 2014, for example, that now stands deleted, Surya had stated that “he would dread the day the Women’s Reservation Bill is passed”, The News Minute recently reported along with a screenshot of the tweet.

In February, Surya put out a tweet maintaining that the majority community must agitate for turning India into a Hindu Rashtra.

 

 

The saffron star seems to be comfortable being called a “bigot or a communal fanatic” and publically upholds that the BJP must become a Hindu party.

 

 

In March 2019, he addressed Editors Guild as “Congress Editors Guild”, challenging “Ramu Uncle & gang of four” to approach the apex court and get the Official Secrets Act revoked. He was reacting to the Guild’s criticism of remarks made by Attorney General KK Venugopal in the Supreme Court about the sources of media coverage of the controversial Rafale deal.

 

 

On the campaign trail, he has been promising to make Bengaluru a truly global metropolis, just like Sydney, New York or London. Notably, in the run-up to 2014 Lok Sabha polls his role model too had promised something similar, transforming Varanasi into Kyoto-style city!

 

 

Just like Narendra Modi, he is also a Congress basher who believes that the grand old party has harmed India and Indian interests in uncountable ways.

 

 

As the campaign heat rises, facts take a backseat when it comes to lionising Narendra Modi. A few days ago, Surya shared another video on Twitter, wherein he can be heard claiming that the country did not see a single civilian casualty in the last 5 years in terrorism-related incidents.

 

 

Surya, in his election speeches, profusely praises Narendra Modi for nominating a 28-year-old for parliamentary elections. By doing so, he declared on Twitter, PM Modi has sent out an important message that he wanted the youth to lead the country.

 

 

OMG! OMG! Is there anybody from the party’s ‘Margdarshak Mandal’ listening? Maybe, it’s high time for the BJP veteran LK Advani to write another blog post.

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