The embattled Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar who has arguably witnessed his popularity plummet to an all-time low, has decided to curb criticism as the Bihar government. He recently made ‘offensive’ criticism of the state government on social media sites an act amounting to cybercrime.
The broad nature of the notification is particularly concerning because according to the law, any person can end up in jail for ‘offensive’ criticism of the current Bihar government. The word ‘offensive’ in itself is broad and subject to perception, and there’s every chance that it can be misused by the Nitish-led Bihar government.
The law states that any ‘offensive/indecent’ post against the government, state ministers, Members of Parliament, Members of Legislative Assembly and the state government officials will now amount to cybercrime.
In fact, the Bihar government has gone a step further and urged the people to report ‘offensive’ posts and will subsequently take strict action after duly verifying those posts.
Make no mistake, the orders to issue this notification has come right from the upper hierarchy of the Bihar government, as time and again, Nitish Kumar has displayed his displeasure over ‘offensive’ social media posts. Reportedly, he has been upset with the use of social media platforms and has openly expressed his displeasure over vested interests misleading people on multiple occasions as Kumar feels that social media is being used to spread disinformation against his government.
Bihar Opposition leader, Tejaswi Yadav took to Twitter to lambast Nitish Kumar over the notification. “Nitish Kumar is the mastermind behind 60 scams, he is the Bhishma Pitamah of corruption, the patron of notorious criminals, and is the weak leader of this immoral and illegal government. Bihar Police sells liquor. Protects criminals and implicates innocents. I challenge the CM now to arrest me under this order,” tweeted Yadav.
One thing that explains Nitish Kumar’s visible dissatisfaction with the use of social media is how often he has been exposed as his image of “Sushasan Babu” has taken a huge hit. This was amply visible during the Munger killings on the eve of Bihar elections as Kumar and JD(U) came under intense scrutiny especially by the BJP supporters over the Bihar Police’s action against the devotees. With the advent of social media, Kumar has no place to hide and perhaps is hoping that the notification will go a long way in reducing the criticism against him and his government.