The Editors Guild of India today issued a statement condemning the Twitter poll ran by BJP IT cell head, Amit Malviya in which he had asked his followers to vote on whether controversial journalist Rajdeep Sardesai should handle the PR for the terror organisation Islamic State.
The Editors Guild of India has issued a statement pic.twitter.com/dFrGYuTYJq
— Editors Guild of Indiaes (@IndEditorsGuild) December 28, 2019
Calling it as “McCarthyist social media poll” on Rajdeep Sardesai, the Editors Guild of India termed the poll as “tasteless and deplorable” and lashed out at Malviya for casting aspersions on the integrity and patriotism of Rajdeep Sardesai, who had also served as the President of the Editors Guild of India in the past.
The Guild also called into question “the BJP’s commitment to a healthy debate and dissent without allowing disagreement to degenerate into abuse. It asked Mr Malviya to urgently withdraw the Twitter poll while asking the BJP to “caution him strongly”.
Amit Malviya had yesterday floated a benign Twitter poll, seeking answers from his Twitter followers on whether controversial journalist Rajdeep Sardesai should preside over the PR for the dreaded terror outfit ISIS. He had given four options for the Twitter users to vote- agree, strongly agree, disagree and he is irrelevant.
Rajdeep Sardesai should handle PR for ISIS.
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) December 27, 2019
On Saturday, when the poll ended, about 33 per cent voted ‘disagree’ while 26 per cent and 28 per cent of the people voted for ‘agree’ and ‘strongly agree’ respectively. 13 per cent of the users voted for ‘he is irrelevant’. The poll saw participation from 144,287 Twitter users.
Just a day before, Rajdeep Sardesai had indeed behaved like the mouthpiece of radical Islamists when he had termed the anti-CAA riots as peaceful and patriotic even as Islamist mobs were rioting, indulging in violence, pelting stones and breaking temples.
While a harmless Twitter poll should not have warranted a response from the Editors Guild of India, but nonetheless, the Guild not only issued a strongly-worded letter of condemnation but it also asked the BJP to “strongly caution” Malviya to remove the poll.
As a citizen of India and an ordinary Twitter user, Malviya is well-within his rights to run a Twitter poll no matter how unpleasant or disagreeable it is for certain sections of the society. Instead of reprimanding and moral policing Malviya, the Editors Guild of India should have exhibited tolerance towards his right to Freedom of Expression.
The response from the Guild, in this case, is in sharp contradiction to its reticence to call out journalists like Ravish Kumar for their contemptuous remarks against fellow journalists. While Amit Malviya’s Twitter poll allegedly slandering Rajdeep Sardesai is denounced, the Editors Guild of India gives a free pass to the repeated derogatory jibes of “Godi Media” made by Ravish Kumar against journalists who do not conform with his worldview. The Editors Guild of India has so far not issued a single statement decrying Ravish Kumar for his snide remarks against other fellow journalists from the same fraternity.
Similarly, the Guild displayed remarkable alacrity in pulling up Malviya for allegedly tarnishing Rajdeep Sardesai but the comparable standard of rejoinder is not employed against Rajdeep for besmirching other journalists who dare question him on his beliefs.
Besides, the Editors Guild of India is notoriously infamous for exercising discretion in weighing in their opinions on contemporary issues. The Editors Guild of India had maintained a stoic silence over the pervasive violence during the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal. The vehicle of a Union Minister was vandalized, journalists were attacked, people clashed with the central forces that were deployed but these incidents did not wake up the Editors Guild of India from its blissful slumber.
Usually gratuitous in slamming the government against perceived inequities, the Editors Guild of India remained conspicuously silent when bouncers were sent to the Kapil Sibal’s Tiranga TV office for allegedly rooting out the sacked journalists from their premises. It also turned a blind eye to the abrupt lay-offs of the scribes without providing them with advance notice or a severance pay-off.
In fact, when a journalist was arrested in Karnataka during the Congress-JDS rule, the Editors Guild maintained stoic silence. Till date, that draconian move has not been condemned by the Guild. Further, they were more upset about a anti-Hindu fake news peddler being arrested than a DD journalist being murdered by Naxals.
The partisanship of the Editors Guild of India is evident when it goes hammer and tongs against an Individual for floating a harmless Twitter poll while keeping mum on serious offences like physical attacks against journalists and state-sponsored violence.
Moreover, one can also judge the credibility of the Editors Guild of India when its President, Shekhar Gupta, himself peddles lies and provides a platform for others- The Print, to lie promiscuously.