Declining Saffron Influence In Social Media by T Navin

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India’s saffron wing finally seems to be losing the war in Social Media. The foothold it had achieved in social media appears to be ending. Social Media had played an important role in widening its support base among sections of the middle class and youth. It had built up a cadre of supporters ideologically in line with the saffron forces. News sites such as,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, groups such as ‘I support Narendra Modi’, ‘Narendra Modi fan club’, ‘Our PM Narenda Modi’, ‘Rohit Sardana and Sudhi Chaudhary fan club’, ‘Arnab Goswami against prestitutes’, ‘Arnab Goswami fans club’, ‘Arnab Goswami fans’, ‘I support zee news ke fans’ etc played a role in spreading content supportive of the saffron forces and hateful of opposition. Projecting themselves as the Nationalists and Development warriors and depicting others as anti-national and anti-development, they occupied the Social media space and were even able to extend influence. The IT cell of BJP was engaged in creating fake content and trolling resistant voices. Depicted as ‘Yodhas’, they were mere abusers of the dissent voices.

The saffron leaning websites had sought to create an illusion that the saffron party and government were really a ‘party with a difference’. And that they were oriented towards development, were inclusive and pro-people, intolerant towards corruption, non-violent and nationalist. It also sought to depict that real changes in India were happening for the first time. Sections of middle class brought to this argument. However this illusion finally is breaking down.

Saffron adventurism of last few years has created its own seeds of destruction. The inherent character of the saffron forces is finally coming out in the open. Its pervasive anti-dalit and anti-minority character, violent nature was at its crude display. The increasing violence against dalits and minorities and inaction against those who inflicted such violence was clearly evident. Its justification that they had no connection with those who inflicted violence was in-sufficient to convince, given lack of action against the inflictors. Incidents such as that of Una where Dalits were beaten, Gandhi Nagar where a Dalit was beaten for having moustache and for attending Garbha displayed its anti-dalit character. Incidents such as that of Mohammad Akhlaq, Junaid, Pehlu Khan and Najeeb showed its anti-minority character.

Its actions with protesting students in Jawaharlal Nehru University, Hyderabad Central University, Film and Television Institute of India, Delhi University, Jamila Milia Islamia showed its anti-student character. Its crushing of protesting female students in Benares Hindu University against a rape incident showed its anti-women attitude. Recently, demonetization results too had come as a blow against the propaganda that was let loose. It had sought to build an image of Saffron forces being against black money and corruption. It only showed that it did not have any affect in reducing either the black money or corruption. Moreover, it facilitated a process of converting black money into white money. Middle class and poor employed in informal sector suffered while the rich hardly had any difficulties. Its anti-rich and pro-poor rhetoric has been lost recently. Recent news related to Jay Shah, son of Amit Shah making up 80 Crores from a mere 50 thousand in a matter of months has come as a blow in its effort to build anti-corrupt image.

Real facts and figures contradict the Development rhetoric of the Saffron forces. Pro-Development rhetoric is being lost in the context of recent growth rates. Contrary to the promise of Job creation, facts only show that it has actually declined in many years. Internal critic from within the Saffron wing is coming out in the open through the voices such as that of Yashwant Sinha, Shatrugan Sinha and Arun Shourie. It has clearly displayed that all is not well. Not everyone is happy with the decisions related to the economy being taken. They have come out in the open and expressed that there is absence of democracy within the party. The coterie of Modi-Shah-Jaitely is under attack.

Overall the image of ‘party with a difference’ is getting lost. The developments have only brought out the anti-dalit, anti-minority, anti-women, anti-poor, anti-student and anti-youth and violent character of the Saffron forces. In the Social Media spaces, the role played by alternative news sites such as Countercurrents, Indiaresists, Thewire, Huffington post, Scroll, Newslaundry, Newsclick, Quint, Altnews, Truth of Gujarat, Unofficial PMO, Unofficial Arnab Goswami, I am with Ravish Kumar, I am with Kanhaiya kumar, Voice of Ram and others in offering critic, alternative perspectives and unmasking fake news have resulted in exposing the Saffron supported Social media.

New evidence from recent developments as well as the role played by alternative news sites is finally reducing the influence of saffron forces over the social media. This is a welcome development and hopefully results in decline of fascist forces.

 T Navin works with an NGO as a Researcher.

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