Targetted by BJP leader, textile shop business shots up

All it took for Karappan to become an overnight ‘star’ was a tweet from controversial BJP leader, H Raja. (Photo credit: Twitter)

Till Sunday, people outside of Sirumugai, a small town in Coimbatore district, hardly knew 70-year-old Karappan, who runs a textile showroom. But today, not just Karappan, but the eponymous silk saree shop he owns are raking in lakhs of rupees in revenue.

All it took for Karappan to become an overnight ‘star’ was a tweet from controversial BJP leader, H Raja, asking people to boycott the entrepreneur and his shop for his comments against Hindu gods. As Raja’s tweet was shared by his followers, the Tamil Twitter, which trends anything and everything deemed anti-BJP, plunged into action.

Hundreds of Twitter handles began using the hashtag #wesupportkarappan and #karappansilks, making the little-known shop and its owner trend on the micro-blogging site. It wasn't just mindless retweeting and sharing of the tweets. Everyone who tweeted in favour of Karappan had a message for Raja, asking him not to target individuals.

Even as Twitter debated the topic, Karappan Silks has shot into limelight, welcoming hundreds of new customers since Monday. Karappan himself sent out a Thank You message to Raja for making him and his shop famous through a single tweet.

However, the textile shop owner has gone incommunicado after the police booked him for “hurting religious sentiments” by making "objectionable" remarks against Hindu deities during an event last month. 

“I was making only a few thousand rupees per day from the shop. But now, the sales have increased to lakhs. Though I have already apologised for my remarks, the BJP leader wanted to make me famous and he has made me,” Karappan had said on Tuesday.

Tamil Twitter shot into limelight in April 2018 for trending #GoBackModi across the world, during Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi’s visit to Chennai. From then, it has consistently showcased its dissent, trending hashtags that target Modi and the BJP.

“People just gave it back. Raja was asking people to boycott Karappan Silks for the owner’s speech against Hindu gods. Why didn’t he debate Karappan? Why is that everyone who doesn’t speak the BJP language are targeted individually? Tamil Twitter reflects the rationalistic and pluralistic nature of Tamil Nadu. Hence, the social media displayed its power again,” social media strategist Sonia Arunkumar told DH.

However, Tamil Nadu BJP spokesperson S G Suryah, who is also active on Twitter, justifies his senior Raja tweets against Karappan and says the Tamil Twitter had no merit to trend the hashtag as it was solely guided by its “anti-BJP nature.”

“No one will agree that Karappan was right in his criticism. His comments were offensive is an understatement and even neutral people criticised him. But a hashtag was created to support him. It trended because it was a Sunday which is a lean day for Twitter,” Suryah told DH.

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