In a press release dated 24th August, BJP accused The Indian Express of publishing untrue, unfounded and mischievous things in its report about a party meeting that was attended and addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The release was shared with the public earlier today on Twitter:
— BJP (@BJP4India) August 25, 2016
The newspaper report in question was titled “Nationalist are with us, let’s reach out to Dalits, Backwards: PM to Party” and it quoted PM Modi telling the party, “Rashtravadi toh hamare saath hain, humein Dalit aur pichchde ko saath lana hai,” (the nationalists are with us, we need to bring dalits and backwards to us).
The report said that the meeting was “closed-door”, though it attributed the aforementioned direct quote to PM as if its reporters were present inside.
The report further claimed that the event was focused on how BJP should win the next elections and stay in power in various states and in center.
However, it is not clear from BJP’s press release that which part among these is “untrue, unfounded, and mischievous”. Whether the quote attributed to the PM was fabricated or whether the entire report was imaginary is not clear, though the press release says “Newspaper has preferred fictions over facts to draw a desired conclusion.”
The press release also attacks The Indian Express for its earlier deeds when they gave the now notorious headline “And they hanged Yakub” after the Mumbai blasts accused was hanged following court orders. Not only that, the party accused the newspaper of “following the vacuous approach of the Congress & Co and Kejriwal & Co” in the press release.
It appears that the party was miffed with the headline given by the newspaper, because it suggests that PM takes the “nationalists” for granted. It further insinuates that Backwards or Dalits were not “nationalists” in Modi’s eyes.
But the newspaper denies it. It has updated the web version of the report and claimed that “There is no insinuation in the report that the Prime Minister drew a distinction between nationalists and Dalits and tribals.”
The newspaper didn’t issue any apology as was asked by the BJP. In fact, taking an aggressive tone, the newspaper further said that “As for the rest of the press statement attacking The Indian Express, this newspaper finds it unworthy of comment.”
Now this has put the ball back in BJP’s court.
If the quote attributed to the PM is entirely fabricated and if it can be proved through a video recording of the meeting that the PM never said so, it is a serious issue and the party has a right to take legal recourse against the newspaper for causing mischief and spreading enmity between communities. However, that will mean making details of a closed-door meeting public.
Could that be the reason that the newspaper has refused to apologize? Because they know that the party will be in a quandary over taking this case to a logical and legal conclusion?
Nonetheless, the aggressive response by The Indian Express means that it doesn’t care about the aggressive tone displayed by the ruling party in the press release, and it has asked them to go away and mind their own business. It remains to be seen what BJP will do now that the newspaper has refused to apologize.