I am getting rather tired of venting steam against trolls but I have to do this again – not for myself but for friends and fellow female journalists who think alike. There are many journalists who quickly switched sides once Narendra Modi came to power but I am glad to note that there are an equal number of people who did not. And I do not see why any of us should be apologetic about not believing in Modi or believing in the philosophy of the Congress party and by extension in Rahul Gandhi, its vice president.

It stands to reason that the BJP which was earlier making fun of Rahul for not taking off successfully, is today stung by some of his actions – most notably the `suit boot ki Sarkar’ comment which derailed Modi’s land bill and lately by his attack on the government for shielding corrupt ministers. And whether one agrees or disagrees with his views, it has to have hurt the BJP for Arun Jaitley to say something like ‘the more he ages, the more he immatures’.

As quips go, that’s a pretty remarkable one-liner and even if Rahul may have come off the worse against Sushma Swaraj in the debate on her alleged `humanitarian’ help to a fugitive from the law (Lalit Modi), there are enough of us who think she really had no answers to the questions asked by Rahul Gandhi and so was raking up the past instead of speaking in the present.

Many of us who dislike Modi do not necessarily adore Rahul Gandhi but there might be some who do. Fellow journalist Neeta Kolhatkar is one of them – but even if she does think well of Rahul, she has enough neutrality to write a tongue-in-cheek piece on the Congress vice president, advising him what he must and must not do to revive the Congress party.

Now what has upset me and other women journalists is that that piece brought forth a rather pre-pubescent kind of commentary from a blogger who calls himself `Chaiwala’ and who accuses Neeta of ‘orgasming for real’ over Rahul Gandhi.

It once again reminded me of how senior journalist Swati Chaturvedi was targeted for her charitable comments about Rahul Gandhi in virtually the same terms. Chaturvedi filed an FIR, Kolhatkar has complained to the Mumbai police’s cyber cell to locate this blogger who has been harassing female journalists in particular and to block the website and IP address he is using to post his blogs.

I do hope the Mumbai police will take some action against such anonymous trolls who have got away for far too long with attempting to cow down particularly female political commentators who refuse to go gaga over Narendra Modi. I must say even if many of us are non-believers in the supreme leader none of us resort to abuse, obscenities or unmentionable words to describe Modi or his supporters– not even when it comes to allegations of his affections for a certain woman when he was chief minister of Gujarat. And I may point out that while his own BJP party men make snide remarks and smirk about his affections for Smriti Irani, it was Rana Ayub, a fellow female journalist, bitterly opposed to the BJP and Modi, who took up the cudgels on her behalf and in a scathing attack on these BJP men said she would not tolerate any nonsense from them about Smriti unless it related to her work as HRD minister.

For all they call us `sickular’ and paid journalists, it is a fact that it is the BJP which pays an army of trolls to target those opposed to Modi and his policies and when General V K Singh called Arnab Goswami a `presstitute’ he did not even bother to look up the dictionary meaning of the term. In fact, it is the pro-Modi supporters who might be legitimately called that because a presstitute is someone who swallows the government, well, hook, line and sinker and does not even bother to investigate the facts. If those supporting Rahul Gandhi are not buying Modi’s rhetoric, then they are the exact opposite of presstitutes, even if they be on the Congress payrolls – which I doubt greatly. Because as was seen from the fiasco in parliament, the Congress had no intelligence and to manage its case and absolutely no ideas on how to manage the media – if they had they would have done better with their government for ten years and not lost the plot and the battle of perception to Modi so miserably.

But sometimes I believe these trolls are actually the Congress’s best friends – because the more they attack those not with them, they drive the dissenters closer to Modi’s rival.

I, too, began with a lot of scepticism about Rahul Gandhi’s ability to take the reins in his hands firmly. I did not ridicule him the way the trolls did but I wished he could do better than just that interview with Arnab Goswami. But now that he has begun talking and formulating his own witticisms, the trolls don’t seem to like it one bit and such is their lack of understanding that they are not even able to differentiate genuine admiration from tongue in cheek comments.

But I have learnt a thing or two from Neeta Kolhatkar – she told me she did not want to accord these trolls with more publicity by lodging criminal complaints against them. She has learnt to laugh off their comments – and, in fact, she knows she is doing something right when they go so wrong. On second thoughts, I suppose this is the best way to deal with trolls like Chaiwala. But I wonder, in the privacy of their homes, alone with their own thoughts do these trolls realise the kind of despicable human beings they might be? I seriously doubt they do.

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I never did think that I would write this in a political context but I never did like alpha males. Such aggressive males are okay in the context of the wild and the deep dark jungles – it is the survival of the fittest after all — but I do not think one suits the civilized context or even the Indian milieu. Read more

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I am quite beginning to feel sorry for Narendra Modi – and beginning to suspect the motives of his adivsors and campaign managers. As though making great “historical’’ blunders were not enough I now wonder that no one tells him that all that he comes across as even today is just a sectarian/regional leader when he should really have something more substantial to talk about as a prime ministerial candidate than just his Gujarat experience. Read more

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The current political discourse in the country today when everyone seems to believe this year’s general election is only between the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party, brings me a sense of déjà vu. Read more

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I was wondering when someone would bring up the fact that India’s deputy consul general in New York, Devyani Khobragade is of Dalit origin – and right on cue it did not take very long for Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati who to play the gallery to reinforce her constituency just ahead of the Lok Sabha polls in the country. Read more

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When there are no choices to make – or it is impossible to choose between two unsustainable options – I always prefer to root for the underdog. Read more

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Not very long ago, at the first election that came around after I had moved into my new home, my maid gave me an enduring lesson in opinion polls. Read more

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For all that the BJP is now attacking Rahul Gandhi for `emotional attyachar’ over the invocation of his grandmother and father’s assassinations at election campaigns, they must then ask their own Gandhi scion, Varun Gandhi, son of Sanjay Gandhi, why he does the same whenever he campaigns in the remote areas of the country. Read more

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The one and only time that I have ever met superstar Amitabh Bachchan in my life – at the launch of a French perfume for men and women named after him, nearly a decade ago – I asked him what I had always wanted to know: why he had described politics as a cesspool when he was a member of parliament and why he had quit even before his term was over. Read more

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There are occasions when Rahul Gandhi does live up to Indira Gandhi’s political instincts. I was too young to remember Mrs Gandhi’s elephant act at the time but my parents always spoke in awe of her clambering atop a pachyderm to make her way into a village called Belchi in Bihar. Read more

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