There has been an alarming development in the state sanctioned persecution against Arnab Goswami initiated by the Maharashtra Government. Former Chief Minister of the state from the Congress party and an elected MLA from the ruling alliance, Prithviraj Chavan, has admitted that it was the Mumbai Police which leaked the private chats of the Editor-in-Chief of Republic TV.
Prithviaj Chavan said, “The voluminous transcript of Mr Goswami’s chats released by Mumbai Police is deeply disturbing. Who gave access to such sensitive information from national security to constitutional amendments and political appointments?”
“The Government of India must launch a thorough probe. Also the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence must take this matter with utmost priority,” he added. The admission by Chavan is, again, a stark reminder of the extent to which the Mumbai Police and the Maharashtra Government have gone to in order to target Arnab Goswami.
The leaked WhatsApp chats pertain to discussions between Arnab Goswami and former BARC CEO Partho Dasupta. The leaked chats surfaced ‘magically’ on the internet recently and has been a matter of hot debate among the opposition parties and their puppets in the media. Now, of course, we know that the private chats were leaked by Mumbai Police itself.
Opposition parties make mountain out of a molehill
Opposition parties are going hammer and tongs against the Modi government, as is their wont, and are demanding a formal inquiry into the whole matter regarding portions of the chat. The portions that they claim to be concerned about is regarding the Balakot airstrikes.
According to opposition parties, Arnab Goswami knew three days prior to the airstrikes that the government was planning some ‘big action’ against Pakistan. The leaked chat shows Arnab saying, “Bigger than a normal airstrike. And on the same time something major on Kashmir. On Pakistan the government is confident of striking in a way that people will be elated. Exact words used.”
The only problem here is that it doesn’t prove any allegation that opposition party politicians have been making. “If what a section of Media is reporting is correct then it points towards a direct linkage between Balakot air strikes and 2019 General elections. Was National Security milked for electoral purposes? Needs a JPC investigation,” Congress MP Manish Tiwari said on Twitter.
Former Union Minister P. Chidambaram asked Defense Minister Rajnath Singh on the social media platform, “Did a journalist (and his friend) know about the retaliatory strike on Balakot camp three days before the actual strike? If yes, what is the guarantee that their ‘source’ did not share the information with others as well, including spies or informers working for Pakistan? How did a “For Your Eyes Only” decision find its way to the government-supporting journalist?”
TMC MP Mahua Moitra commented, “Transcript of whatsap chats shows clearly Government gave prior information about both Balakot strikes & abolishing Article 370 to tv anchor. What is going on? Am I the only one who thinks ModiShah owe us answers?”
Why the Arnab Goswami Balakot chats are a non-story
Opposition parties have, perhaps, forgotten the sentiments prevailing in the country since the Pulwama terror attack. It is not surprising given that their conduct was deplorable, to put it mildly. And one has to take a moment here to appreciate the change of stance of opposition parties. Because unlike earlier, at least now they are not questioning the fact that India did conduct airstrikes and inflict damage; something they were prone to doubting at the time.
Nevertheless, the chats by Arnab Goswami only point towards the great expectations from Indians that Pakistan will not be permitted to walk away without any consequences this time around. The expectations were heightened by the Surgical Strikes in 2016 and by 2019, people took it for a fact that the Modi government will hit back amidst public outcry.
And the comments made by Prime Minister Modi in the immediate aftermath of the Pulwama Terror Attack made it abundantly clear that there would be repercussions. Narendra Modi had said on the 15th of February, 2019, a day after the terror attack that the blood of the people was boiling and that the terrorists had committed a “grave mistake” and would pay a heavy price for it.
The Prime Minister went to the extent of saying that “our neighbouring country forgets that this (India) is a country with new intent and new policy.” In the backdrop of this, it was abundantly clear that something big was indeed coming.
“Trust the brave soldiers of the country and trust the Modi government…This time, everyone will be taken to justice and complete justice will be served,” Prime Minister Modi said on the 23rd of February, 3 days prior to the attack, “Your pradhan sevak is busy finishing terror…If I am destined to put locks to the factory of terror, so be it.”
Such comments are to be found in abundance making it clear that an attack was imminent. Karan Thapar in his 24th February column for Hindustan Times also suggested that an attack was pretty much imminent. He said, “The question is how they will respond? Is it an opportunity to step up strikes, because it will embarrass the Modi government, or will it give them reason to reconsider, because they know Modi will hit back hard?”
Not merely that, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Kahn himself was pleading with the UN to defuse the situation. Under such circumstances, with such comments by Narendra Modi himself already in public domain, does Arnab Goswami sound conspiratorial in his chats? It is absolutely absurd to assume that he said anything or was told anything that had not already been indicated by the Prime Minister himself in his message to Indians.
The sentiment was such that a Twitter user told Imran Khan on the 25th of February 2019, the night before the Pulwama terror attack, that India was going to attack that night and he should take care of himself. A case was filed in Dehradun and the poor man was questioned regarding the enthusiastic tweet. Opposition parties are acting exactly like those people who believed that the warning from the Twitter user was based on genuine information.
The Kangana Ranaut chats
In one of the chats, the other person calls Hrithik Roshan “dumb” and Kangana Ranaut “schizophrenic”. The chats were from 2017. In 2019, the two again discussed Kangana Ranaut when Arnab Goswami called her a ‘massive rating cruncher’.
Somehow, people are linking it to the interview Kangana Ranaut gave to Republic TV in light of Sushant Singh Rajput’s death which occurred in 2020. Akash Banerjee appears to somehow link the 2019 chats to SSR’s death, which is a ridiculous claim to make.
The Smriti Irani chats
Another of his chats that has attracted great attention is where Arnab Goswami says that Smriti Irani will be the new I&B Minister in 2017 and that he was happy for her because she is a great friend. Now, the allegations are that the Republic TV Editor was aware of the appointment before it was disclosed and that he might have had something to do with it.
But even that falls flat because the chat regarding the appointment occurs at least 5 minutes after Prime Minister Modi had already announced the appointment on social media.
18-07-2017 10:51, PMO India tweeted that Smriti Irani will be next I&B Minister.— Facts (@BefittingFacts) January 15, 2021
In alleged chat of Arnab
18-07-2017 10:57, Arnab tells that Smriti is next I&B minister.
How is this ‘Probable’ new I&B minister as it was already tweeted by PMO? Kuchh bhi leak kar rahe 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/2PfKYLbRod
Narendra Modi tweeted at 10.51 am on the 18th of July 2017 and Arnab informed the former BARC CEO of the matter at 10.57 am the same day. Now what does it say about the intellectual capabilities of people who are reaching conspiratorial conclusions based on this?
The real reason why Mumbai Police leaked Arnab Goswami chats
The actual reason why the Mumbai Police leaked Arnab’s chats are sufficiently clear given the nonsensical controversies they have generated. In order to tarnish his reputation and so that the opposition parties and their puppets in the media could have more ammunition to slander their respective enemies, the chats were conveniently leaked.
The fundamental message that is being conveniently ignored by vested interests in the media and political establishment is that there is absolutely nothing incriminating in the chats at all. If there were indeed incriminatory material, then the focus would not have been on nonsensical conspiracy theories.
Another thing that is being ignored is that there are no circumstances under which the Mumbai Police leaking private chats of a journalist can be justified. It is a great breach of privacy that deserves condemnation from all quarters.
Furthermore, the leaked chats also reveal that Arnab Goswami did not know anything at all about the inner functioning of the government apart from ordinary politically informed citizens. For all their allegations of ‘Godi Media’, the only evidence they could provide for it was that he told the former BARC CEO that India will retaliate strongly to the Pulwama terror attack. Even Imran Khan could have provided this information given the numerous phony calls for peace he made.
The actions of the Maharashtra establishment during the entire TRP scam fracas has been a matter of grave concern to say the least. There have been allegations that the Mumbai Police was coercing witnesses to deliver adverse statements against Goswami. The family of Partho Dasgupta has also alleged that someone was being paid to torture him while he is lodged in Taloja jail till he delivers statement against the Republic TV Editor.
The Supreme Court also took a harsh view on the Bombay High Court for rejecting his bail application following his arrest in a separate case where the apex court observed that an abetment to suicide charge was not established in the FIR. Under such circumstances, leaking Goswami’s private chats appear to be another vindictive action of the Mumbai Police against him to tarnish his reputation.