Kejriwal at a meeting in Ahmedabad. File picture
New Delhi, March 14: Arvind Kejriwal’s claim that the media had sold itself to Narendra Modi and, if the Aam Aadmi Party came to power, “everybody, including media, would be sent to jail” has stirred a storm.
The AAP has, however, rushed to its boss’s defence. “Arvind Kejriwal has said a section of the media was implementing the agenda of Modi and the BJP. His comments were against those who distort news and resort to paid news,” spokesperson Sanjay Singh said at a news conference today.
In a news clip first aired by ABP News, Kejriwal is heard threatening to send mediapersons sold to a particular candidate to jail if his party comes to power. The AAP leader, now campaigning in Maharashtra, made the claim in Nagpur last night.
The accusation drew strong reactions from the Editors Guild of India and the Broadcast Editors’ Association.
“His wholesale accusation against the media as being bought by a particular political party and candidate and his threat, even if it be an empty one, to send mediapersons to prison after an enquiry reflect an intolerant mindset that resents any critical scrutiny,” N. Ravi, the president of the guild, said in a statement.
“BEA condemns Arvind Kejriwal’s irresponsible statement on media… BEA believes that such statements are a conspiracy to dilute the credibility of the media,” a statement by BEA president Shazi Zaman and general secretary N.K. Singh said.
Although AAP leaders claimed Kejriwal was attacking only a section of the media, in the news clip he is clearly heard saying the whole of the media had sold itself.
“This time, the whole media has sold itself, it is a big conspiracy. If we ever form the government, we will probe this and everybody, including media, would be sent to jail,” Kejriwal is heard saying.
The former Delhi chief minister today did a U-turn and denied he had made any such threat. But that did not stop his party workers from speaking up for him at the news conference.
Ashutosh, a former editor of a news channel and now AAP candidate from Delhi’s Chandni Chowk, claimed a sting operation had shown that opinion polls were being tweaked in favour of certain parties.
“No action has been taken against television channels and opinion poll agencies yet,” Ashutosh said, declaring his party would soon approach the Election Commission with proof and demand action against media houses.
Other leaders alleged that Congress and BJP candidates were distributing money to voters, but did not furnish any proof.
The news conference also saw heated arguments between AAP leaders and journalists, who sought to know how the party could so confidently claim that most media houses were promoting Modi and showing Kejriwal in poor light.