The People's Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), Rajasthan, on Friday launched www.pheku.in, a website that serves to “expose” Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and “restore democracy.”
Endorsed by top actors (Naseeruddin Shah, Mahesh Bhatt), artists (Mallika Sarabhai, Ashok Vajpayee), academics (Nandini Sundar, G.N. Devi, K.N. Panikkar), journalists (Seema Mustafa) and intellectuals (Harsh Mandar, Shabnam Hashmi) from across the country, the website was simultaneously launched in 25 cities in India.
Within hours of being launched, the website was flooded by a barrage of comments by livid Modi supporters, alleging a Congress bias on part of the website operators.
The website, christened www.pheku.in after a popular Twitter hashtag about the BJP leader, has cartoons and other satirical posts on the Gujarat Chief Minister, besides pages on scams, communalism and the “real story behind Gujarat's development.”
An idea about the content and aim of the website can be gathered by a home-page graph on Gujarat's modest human development indicators, titled “Summarising Pheku: A multi dimensional disaster.”
A post with a picture of Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, titled “Who is this man and why is he smiling?,” argues Mr. Chamling to be a better candidate for the post of Prime Minister “If development is the main factor.”
Even if smaller States like Sikkim were excluded, the post notes,”we still land up with several PM candidates...Vijay Bahuguna, Ashok Gehlot, Sheila Dikshit, Bhupinder Singh Hooda (all Congress) and Nitish Kumar of JD (U).”
Comments by Mr. Modi’s supporters range from allegations of Congress sponsorship to the website being a good advertising platofrm for Mr. Modi. Sample this: “I think the website owner is receiving good amount of donation from the Congress” and “this website is actually an advertisement for Narendra Modi...we will win in 2014.”
A photograph of a filthy street in a Gujarat city, posted on the website, was actually shot in Chennai, the comments alleged.
“Like all fascists Modi presents a model of efficiency and effective rule to a beleaguered nation and like most fascists this model of efficiency and growth is based on lies, half-truths and a million-dollar PR industry,” PUCL Rajasthan vice-president Radhakant Saxena said here while launching the website.
With production teams in 15 different States across India and in four cities outside the country, the website intends to expose “the record of the most authoritarian politician in India today” and serve as a breaking news site through the election season.
“The unique combination of Modi's authoritarianism, his deeply communal record, and his ability to lie smoothly is the fertile ground on which pheku.in will flourish,” said PUCL national secretary Kavita Srivastava.
The website launch was accompanied by a short film bringing out the “true, hidden picture” of Gujarat.