The last few days has seen powerful people attempting to stifle the freedom of the media, at least a section of it that attempted to differ from the usual mainstream narrative. Just a couple of days back an FIR was filed against Zee News for reporting on the Dhulagarh riots, and now a Congress leader took upon himself to complain about a journalist, whom he thought was not “friendly” to the party.
India Today journalist Shiv Aroor found himself on the wrong side of things after Congress leader and party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala called up the management of TV Today to complain about his supposed (political) “leanings”.
A little bit of a background. An abusive Twitter user Swati Chaturvedi has written a book about BJP using social media to target critics in an abusive way. India Today, like other media channels, decided to give her airtime. Shiv Aroor anchored a show that debated the allegations made in the book:
— Shiv Aroor (@ShivAroor) December 28, 2016
Although Twitter user Suresh Nakhua was invited as someone whom Swati Chaturvedi, an abusive troll herself, had termed an abusive troll, Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi, who thinks Barkha Dutt is a pro-Narendra Modi, claimed that the panel had two BJP representatives. She later said that it was not a concern and sounded happy at the end of the show.
But appears that Congress was not happy that a show that should have simply maligned the BJP and its supporters, gave the opportunity to people to defend themselves. Senior leader of the party Randeep Surjewala appears to have called top management of the news channel to complain about Shiv Aroor.
This came to light after Shiv Aroor sent out the following tweets (now deleted) last night after the show was over and aired:
So Congress could not tolerate the fact that unlike other channels, say NDTV, India Today and Shiv Aroor tried to give the opportunity to those maligned by a book to defend themselves. This is not the media Congress is comfortable with, as the default “leaning” a journalist should have is pro-Congress.
Though Shiv Aroor proceeded to delete all these tweets – voluntarily or under pressure is not clear – this has exposed the intolerance Congress has to dissenting views and also their idea about how media should behave. After all when Priyanka Chaturvedi had declared that she had no problem with the choice of guests, why did Surjewala have to step in? Or did the orders came from Congress high command?
What’s more important is the fact that a systematic effort is being made by the Congress aligned establishment to stifle and discredit all those voices that go against their agenda. The book that Shiv Aroor was talking about in his show is a part of this Congress establishment thuggery. Earlier, another India Today journalist, Gaurav Sawant’s family was targeted by Congress aligned trolls. On another occasion, he too was forced to delete some tweets that did not align with Congress establishment’s views.
However, such arm-twisting and attack on dissent is never considered worthy of outrage or concern when the Congress indulges in this. Compare this with the chatter that was generated when Firstpost deleted an article critical of Arun Jaitley.