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The ‘liberals’ mocking Vashudev over his boycott call for Qatar Airways exposes how those ‘fighting for equality’ are deeply classist

For our 'liberal' intelligentsia, boycotting easily becomes a revolutionary tool to fight against 'crony capitalism' and 'Hindu fascism', but when someone else employs the same tool against them or their preferred brands, they indulge in elitist snobbery, scoffing at their critics and insulting them with classist stereotypes.

On June 7, the hashtag ‘Boycott Qatar Airways’ was trending on Twitter in retaliation to calls from the Gulf nations to ban Indian products. The controversy erupted after professional dog whistlers whipped up Muslim sentiments over a comment made by former BJP leader Nupur Sharma on Prophet Mohammed, causing a furore among the mostly Islamic monarchies in the Middle East.

As the controversy played out, which quickly escalated to the Gulf, Islamist journalists and politicians in India were delighted to see India firefighting a diplomatic situation as their ‘religious feelings’ were hurt.

Indian netizens, on the other hand, came up with retaliation to boycott Qatar Airways, after the Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Indian ambassador Dr Deepak Mittal and expressed disappointment and condemnation of the remarks made by Nupur Sharma. In the trend, an Indian netizen with the Twitter account @theVashudevIND was seen elaborating on why Qatar Airlines should be boycotted.

In the video, Vashudev says, “This is the same country which gave citizenship to M F Hussain who made obscene imagery of Goddess Sita. Now they are teaching a lesson to India over Nupur Sharma’s comments. Qatar has also started firing off Indians employed there. So I request you to boycott the goods from Qatar, including Qatar Airways. It is important they are responded in the language they understand. Har Har Mahadev.”

Soon, the Twitter user was mocked over his modest appearance in the video while exhorting Indians to boycott an airline company belonging to a nation that had made unsolicited comments against India. Just like any other patriotic citizen of his/her country, Vashudev, too, stood up for his country in the way he deemed right. However, his sight was mocked and classist jokes were hurled at him for appearing not ‘rich’ enough to be able to afford a flight journey.

Vashudev was mocked and abuses hurled at him because he was a ‘denigrated low-life individual’ in the eyes of Islamist trolls. For our ‘liberal’ intelligentsia, boycotting easily becomes a revolutionary tool to fight against ‘crony capitalism’ and ‘Hindu fascism’ but when someone employs the same tool against them or their preferred brands, they indulge in elitist snobbery, scoffing at their critics and insulting them with classist stereotypes.

Screengrab of a Twitter trolling directed at Vashudev
Screengrab of a Twitter trolling directed at Vashudev

Vashudev was abused for looking poor – the only accusation that made him unfit to take up boycotting an international airline company. A series of such classist abuses were thrown at him while Indian ‘liberals’ were laughing at the sight of the person getting trolled.

Screengrab of a Twitter trolling directed at Vashudev

“The only thing you need to boycott is oxygen,” a tweet in the troll attack read. While Twitter would be the last place to look out for decency and sensitivity, it also exemplifies polarization of the worst kind with concerted attacks directed at global minority religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism and Judaism.

Screengrab of a Twitter trolling directed at Vashudev
Screengrab of a Twitter trolling directed at Vashudev

Moreover, the attack was not restricted to being classist, but a group of people also mocked the young man for being ‘North-Indian’ and ‘Sanghi’.

Screengrab of a Twitter trolling directed at Vashudev

To the people to whom political Hindutva is an anathema, gory generalizations, racial stereotyping and appalling Hinduphobia come in handy. This was very much visible during concerted troll attacks like this.

Screengrab of a Twitter trolling directed at Vashudev

A spoof video was also circulated featuring the CEO of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker in which a doctored voiceover was added to suggest the person is bragging about ‘Vashudev’ being the biggest shareholder in the company. “Our biggest shareholder Vashudev decided to boycott our airline from his headquarters which is the terrace of his house. He was having a power cut at that time in his neighbourhood. And he made that devastating video,” the voice in the guise of the CEO said in the doctored video.

The video made waves on social media, especially in the Islamist and liberal circles who were trolling people giving boycott calls against Qatar Airways. When actress Kangana Ranaut posted a story on Instagram after accidentally falling for the doctored video spread by Islamist trolls, it was for Alt News co-founder Mohd. Zubair to ‘fact-check’ her over her stories. Apparently, Zubair and AltNews are yet to ‘fact-check’ statements made by Nupur Sharma on Prophet Muhammad that touched off the controversy in the first place.

While such duplicity is not new to AltNews, it goes to show how the far-left portal relies on fuelling outrage and perpetually driving the Muslim victimhood narrative to stay relevant among the section of liberals who harbour pathological hatred against the BJP and PM Modi.

Soon, Twitter’s politically prejudiced algorithm suspended Vashudev’s account. While Vashudev was denied voicing out his opinions on the microblogging site, hateful attacks levelled at him continued to be platformed before the world.

Vashudev’s Twitter account was suspended in no time

The charade of mockery, fake news and fact-checking completed a full circle here. Moreover, the opinionated leftists who make a huge cry about ‘voices of the subaltern’ found an opportunity to mock the concerns of one, during the controversy. The parallels between ‘How can a poor man boycott an airline company‘ and ‘How can a Chaiwala become the Prime Minister‘ are blatantly clear. Satyagraha, once an instrument of the masses to speak the real truth to the power has acquired a much classist undertone to this day. In the rose-tinted worldview of our elite intellectuals and their keyboard footsoldiers, boycotting too has become an act of privilege and a tool to perpetuate class differences.

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Amit Kelkar
Amit Kelkar
a Pune based IT professional with keen interest in politics

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