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regular-article-logo Sunday, 03 March 2024

‘Hounds of RSS-BJP’: INDIA alliance decides to steer clear of godi media

This is probably the first time the entire Opposition bloc has decided to pinpoint journalists who act as agents of power and boycott them

Sanjay K. Jha New Delhi Published 14.09.23, 06:28 AM
NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Congress leader KC Venugopal, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, AAP leader Raghav Chadha, Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav, J&K National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah and other Opposition leaders during the coordination committee meeting of the INDIA bloc at Pawar’s residence in New Delhi on Wednesday.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Congress leader KC Venugopal, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, AAP leader Raghav Chadha, Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav, J&K National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah and other Opposition leaders during the coordination committee meeting of the INDIA bloc at Pawar’s residence in New Delhi on Wednesday. PTI picture

The Opposition INDIA combine has decided to stop sending its leaders and spokespersons to participate in debates conducted by some television anchors, identifying sections of the media as “hounds” of the RSS-BJP.

After a meeting of the INDIA coordination committee at Sharad Pawar’s residence in New Delhi on Wednesday evening, a joint statement said: “The coordination committee authorised the sub-group on media to decide upon the names of the (TV) anchors on whose shows none of the INDIA parties will send their representatives.”

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This is probably the first time the entire Opposition bloc has decided to pinpoint journalists who act as agents of power and boycott them. Sources told this newspaper that some media houses would be completely shunned while specific anchors on other channels would be avoided. There is a consensus among the parties that they should have no link with at least three media houses which act as “hounds” of the RSS-BJP.

While the names of the anchors and TV channels were not announced, the
hint was clear as former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti talked of the “godi media” and Samajwadi Party leader Javed Ali Khan pointed to “those anchors who spread hatred in society”.

There was unanimity among the INDIA leaders on such a stern stand as they felt there was no scope for any change in their attitude.

A senior leader said: “We discussed this matter in detail over the past few weeks. Individual names were discussed. It is not that they only defend the RSS-BJP and attack the Opposition, they work on a clear agenda to spread poison in society. They select topics and events that can be used to create communal tension and run propaganda on a daily basis. This is not only about political bias; this is unethical journalism which even the media should look into.”

The Congress was worried about the media not giving enough space to the Opposition in 2004 too and senior leaders like Manmohan Singh, Pranab Mukherjee, Natwar Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Arjun Singh had held a media conference to appeal to editors to uphold the democratic principles of fairness and a level-playing field. But that time, during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime, there was no complaint of a false vilification campaign against Opposition leaders. Now, the pro-government bias is more than apparent, along with a vicious attack on the Opposition.

The Opposition is now prepared to aggressively counter the media instead of begging for space. A few days ago, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate was asked at a media conference how she dared to insult the media by calling journalists “charan-chumbak (boot-licker)”.

She responded: “The day journalists start doing journalism and start asking questions of the government, on unemployment, prices, Manipur and the Adani scam, I will respect them. I respect some journalists even now. But the newsrooms which function under the government’s advice, on the diktat sent by a PMO chaprasi (peon) on WhatsApp, I have not an iota of respect for such journalists. If they act as boot-lickers, they will be called boot-lickers.”

Seat talks

At Wednesday’s meeting, the Opposition parties also decided to start seat-sharing negotiations immediately and hold the first joint public rally in Bhopal. Only one coordination committee member, Trinamul’s Abhishek Banerjee, could not attend the meeting. Congress leader K.C. Venugopal said: “Abhishek could not attend the meeting due to a summons from the Enforcement Directorate arising out of the vendetta politics of the BJP and the Prime Minister.”

Caste census

The statement issued by the Opposition said: “The coordination committee decided to start the process for determining the seat-sharing. It was decided that the member parties will hold the talks and decide at the earliest. The committee decided to hold joint public meetings in different parts of the country. The first public meeting will be held at Bhopal in the first week of October on the issue of rising prices, unemployment, and corruption of the BJP government. The parties present in the meeting agreed to take up the issue of caste census.”

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