Anybody following Madhu Kishwar on Twitter is well aware of the journalist-activist’s strident defence of Narendra Modi on all accounts, including the latter’s alleged involvement in the Gujarat 2002 riots. On Tuesday, though, a series of tweets by Kishwar criticising the PM’s appointment of Smriti Irani as Union HRD minister took them by surprise.
“Now onwards NaMo will be judged by performance as PM. Old track record as CM very important but doesn’t mean blind support taken for granted,” she tweeted.
She also posted, “Irani claims to be BCom part 1 frm correspondence school. No such degree exists. Means just took admission and left. Misrepresentn in affidavit.” Another post said, “Congress & Left have nurtured intellectuals, academics for decades. BJP neglected this arena. @narendramodi better put worthy person in HRD”
Kishwar’s older statements online have often been seen as unqualified support for Modi. “Modi indeed polarized India – all rogues, communal, corrupt politicians against Modi – all those wanting peaceful prosperous India with Modi,” she had tweeted on 20 March.
In a series of tweets on 14 March, she said, “I stood up for Modi after thorough investigation over 1 year that he’s being targeted on basis of lies – punished 4 making Gujarat riot free. Those who support Modi – proud of it coz we do out of conviction – Those who act at Congress behest dare not own up coz they’re paid hirelings.” Kishwar has also written a book on Modi, titled “Modi, Muslims and Media”.
Speaking to TOI over phone, Kishwar said, “I did not pledge lifelong allegiance to a devotee’s club. If I see something going wrong, I will speak up.”
Kishwar also said, “HRD is the most important ministry. The country can’t afford to waste another five years. I owed it to India to tell the truth about Modi earlier. So why would I not stand my ground today?”
Her tweets on both Modi and Smriti received a lot of attention with retweets running into hundreds and a barrage of replies, both sarcastic and sincere. “Your account is hacked or what ?? Congies also criticize ur fav Modi as just a Chaiwala..learn to respect ppl with hmble bacgr,” one @latishachary responded to a tweet on Irani.
Acknowledging the replies, she tweeted again, “NaMo devotees, pl don’t try to browbeat me into silence when i express honest opinion. Treat me as “opposition” camp from now on, if you like”
Speaking of the time when she began her “Modinama” series of blogs and her interview of Modi was aired on TV, Kishwar told TOI she had to bear a lot of flak and hostility. “I took a lot of hatred — right from the hostility of my own colleagues to others. I stood firm and did my job,” she told TOI.
Kishwar has repeatedly emphasized that she is non-partisan and fiercely independent, consistently fending off speculations about her seeking a position in the new government. As early as May 15, she wrote: “Feel very sad when people, including hi-fi (sic) academics & journos assume I’m going to be ‘rewarded’ with some plum post if Modi comes to power. Clarifying for Nth time, I’m happy & content in my little corner. My research on Modi’s Gujarat was call of conscience, no favor to him. I’d be demeaning my study of Modi’s tenure if I expected any quid-pro-quo. Will be back in Gujarat for book 2 & 3 very soon. Work not over.—Times of India, May 28, 2014