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Tuesday, August 09, 2022

HashtagPolitics | Fringe vs mainstream vs core: On Nupur Sharma row, a new discourse

The terms 'fringe' and 'mainstream' have dominated the discourse on social media since June 5, when the govt put out a statement dismissing the remarks of Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal as that of “fringe elements”.

Written by Vidhatri Rao | New Delhi |
Updated: June 9, 2022 8:13:31 am
Activists shout slogans during a protest demanding the arrest of suspended BJP leader Nupur Sharma over her remarks on Prophet Muhammad, in Ahmedabad. (PTI)

On Wednesday, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi put out a tweet that said: “Fringe is BJP’s core.” To drive home his point, he shared a compilation of headlines that involve comments made by BJP leaders – Home Minister Amit Shah’s comments on Bangladeshi migrants; Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Minister Yogi Adityanth’s comments on women; Union Minister Anurag Thakur’s speech before the Delhi riots and Sadhvi Pragya’s comments on Nathuram Godse.

The terms ‘fringe’ and ‘mainstream’ have dominated the discourse on social media since June 5, when the government put out a statement dismissing the remarks of the ruling BJP’s spokespersons Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal, on whom the party cracked the whip over their controversial statements on the Prophet, as that of “fringe elements”.

Congress leaders picked up the cue from Rahul’s tweet and posted similar tweets. Sadaf Jafar, National Coordinator of the All India Mahila Congress, tweeted in Hindi with the hashtag bharat jhodo (unite India): “When I say ‘fringe’, you think of it as ‘core’,” she said.

The Congress’s official Kerala handle also replied to Gandhi, saying, “Fringe is proud to be followed by PM.” It was a reference to the Prime Minister following Nupur Sharma on Twitter.

Earlier, many others, including AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, Trinamool Congress MP from Krishnanagar Mahua Moitra, Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi and CPM’s Thomas Isaac, had tweeted in the same vein.

While the BJP is yet to react to Rahul’s tweet on Wednesday, it has in the past referred to the Congress as the “fringe”.

“The Congress party is repeatedly giving indication of it not being a mainstream political party, but a fringe party/fringe player in the country,” Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said at a press conference in 2017 in response to the Congress’ criticism of the 2016 surgical strikes.

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But it was Thiruvananthapuram Congress MP Shashi Tharoor who walked away with the laughs. On June 7, replying to a tweet by a user who said the “fringe” were making India “cringe” internationally, Tharoor said: “‘Agreed!’ They’ve been a ‘binge’ too long. And some of them are ‘unhinged’. In the process the nation has been ‘singed’.”

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First published on: 08-06-2022 at 08:23:09 pm

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