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The life and times of Rajdeep Sardesai: Multiple apologies, repeated ‘mistakes’ and dedicated propaganda, from Sohrabuddin to Coronavirus

If the lies were a consequence of incompetence alone, one would have expected Rajdeep Sardesai to spread lies that hurt the electoral prospects of 'secular' parties as well but that, somehow, never appears to have happened.

Speculations are rife that ‘Eminent journalist’ Rajdeep Sardesai has resigned from India Today after he was taken off air for spreading fake news regarding an extremely sensitive matter during the Republic Day insurrection. It was not the first time that the propagandist-in-chief lied about a critical event but the one on Republic Day appears to have proved to be one too many.

Rajdeep Sardesai had claimed that a protester was shot by the Police when, in reality, he died after meeting with an accident and no shots had been fired at him. Unsurprisingly, he has been facing major flak on social media and elsewhere regarding the same.

Public memory is short, therefore, it is perhaps a good time to remind people of the dedicated agenda that he has peddled during his career. And intriguingly perhaps, but not really, all such lies always are engineered to harm only one political party.

Thus, if the lies were a consequence of incompetence alone, one would have expected Rajdeep Sardesai to spread lies that hurt the electoral prospects of ‘secular’ parties as well but that, somehow, never appears to have happened.

In this report, we revisit some of the major propaganda efforts that Rajdeep Sardesai has made over the years.

The Sohrabuddin Encounter Case

Rajdeep Sardesai offered an unconditional apology in November 2019 for spreading lies about IPS Officer Rajiv Trivedi 12 years earlier. Rajdeep Sardesai had to apologise to Rajiv Trivedi for a program that aired on 13 May 2007. In the program, it was claimed that Hyderabad Special Investigation Unit SP Rajiv Trivedi had helped Gujarat police in nabbing Sohrabuddin. Rajdeep Sardesai had claimed that the IPS Officer had provided cars with fake number plates which were used to transport Sohrabuddin to Ahmedabad.

After the report, a Criminal Complaint was filed against Rajdeep Sardesai and others involved in the news report. Accordingly, Hyderabad police had initiated criminal proceedings against the ‘journalist’.

Rajdeep Sardesai provides platform to Pakistan Minister

Pakistani Minister Fawad Chaudhry had announced in their parliament that the Pulwama Attack was a great victory for Pakistan. He said that Pakistan had entered India and carried out the Pulwama Attack.

“Humne Hindustan ko ghus ke maara (We hit India in their home). Our success in Pulwama, is a success of the people under the leadership of Imran Khan. You and us are all part of that success,” Fawad Chaudhry said in the national assembly.

Immediately afterwards, Rajdeep Sardesai invited Fawad on his show to ‘clarify’ his stand. Instead of confronting him over the matter, the propagandist-in-chief permitted him to attack Indian media instead.

Rajdeep Sardesai insinuates Sushant Singh Rajput was suffering from ‘bipolar disorder’

The propagandist’s conduct regarding the Sushant Singh Rajput case has also been rather questionable. He had asserted that Sushant’s family should “mourn in peace” and raised objections when a police investigation was initiated. However, when he was told by IPS officers that it is the law to investigate every unnatural death, he had deflected his assertions.

Furthermore, he insinuated that Sushant Singh Rajput was suffering from bipolar disorder despite evidence to the contrary.

The propaganda regarding CAA

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was another polarized issue that incited violent riots. Thus, it will not surprise anyone that he spread lies regarding the matter as well. He claimed that “debates were invited after bringing in Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)”.

Debates on the matter have been ongoing since ages as evidenced by the past stance of the Congress party and other opposition parties which had earlier demanded provisions consistent with the CAA.

The Sachin Pilot Rebellion

In the aftermath of Sachin Pilot’s rebellion against the Congress party in Rajasthan, Rajdeep Sardesai insinuated during an interview with the Congress leader that the revolt was sponsored by the BJP. He was instantly shut off by Pilot who said they had paid for the travel and lodging expenses themselves.

Sachin Pilot said, “No, It is very easy to allege. I know the numbers better than you do Rajdeep. I have worked to make those numbers. I know each and every MLA in our party and otherwise.”

During the saga, he had cast aspersions on a verdict passed by the Supreme Court, perceived to be detrimental to the Congress party, saying that it was delivered by Justice Arun Mishra who had called Prime Minister Modi a “versatile genius”. He deleted the tweet later.

The Coronavirus crisis

Rajdeep Sardesai did not stop peddling his agenda even during the Coronavirus crisis. A Medical College in Devanagere, Karnataka had not paid the stipends of its students for 16 months. The propagandist-in-chief proceeded to target Prime Minister Modi’s drive to hail Corona Warriors.

Later, it was discovered that the Medical College in question was owned by a Congress leader and the BJP Government had asked the authorities to pay the students. He had also at one point discussed whether the success of the ‘Bengaluru model’ in combatting the Coronavirus was due to luck, hinting that the BJP Government in the state did not deserve credit for its initiatives.

Rajdeep Sardesai had also claimed that a man had died of starvation at Banda in Bundelkand, Uttar Pradesh. The DM of Banda had to fact-check the propagandist and reveal that the family had received food grains under various schemes free of cost and that the man had died to other reasons.

He had also claimed that Punjab had received only Rs. 71 crore from the central government to fight Covid-19 when, in reality, the state had received hundreds of crores in funding.

Rajdeep Sardesai lies about the Statue-of-Unity

Rajdeep Sardesai trolled Sonam Wangchuk, Ladakh based innovator and education reformist, after the latter made the call to boycott Chinese products in the wake of the clash at Galwan Valley. He claimed that the ‘Statue of Unity’ in Gujarat was in fact ‘Made in China’ and not built in India.

“The entire statue itself is being built in India at the site and only the bronze cladding in the form of bronze plates is being sourced from China, which constitutes a negligible amount of less than 9 per cent of the total value of the project,” the engineering major Larsen & Toubro (L&T), which constructed the statue, had stated as early as 2015.

Rajdeep Sardesai and 2001 Parliament attack

Rajdeep Sardesai, in a viral video, had said how the 2001 terror attack on Indian Parliament was a ‘great day’. During an interview in 2018, the ‘ace’ reporter had admitted that when the Parliament was being attacked in 2001, he was ‘excited’ and that journalists are like vultures. Rajdeep Sardesai stated, “It was a great day. We are like vultures. We feed on these moments.”

Rajdeep Sardesai and ‘fake sting operation’

In June 2018, a doctor named Ajay Agarwal levelled serious allegations against television journalist Rajdeep Sardesai (With India Today group) and others of ruining his life and reputation by airing a ‘fake sting operation’ in 2006 on news channels IBN7 and CNN-IBN (both channels have now been re-branded as News18 and CNN-News18 respectively). For 12 long years, Dr. Agarwal fought to salvage his life and reputation but none of the journalists including Rajdeep apologised him despite numerous probes finding him not guilty.

Rajdeep Sardesai and politics over dead bodies

Few years back, Rajdeep Sardesai exposed his own hypocrisy when he asked others to stop politics over dead bodies. It is a bit rich coming from someone who rose to prominence in the journalism arena by politicising charred dead bodies of innocent people in a train burning incident in Godhra in 2002 and the ensuing communal-riots. Rajdeep had also written a moving piece when journalist Shujaat Bukhari was brutally murdered. What is interesting, is that when Hindu Activist Prashant Poojari was murdered, Rajdeep had written a piece trying to whitewash the crime and assert that his murder had a “political context”. 

Rajdeep Sardesai and caste bias

The great visionary Mr. Sardesai is also known for his progressive, futuristic views. So much so that he has gone to the extent of pointing out ‘caste bias‘ in the selection of the Indian cricket team. Yes, a caste-based selection process is exactly what Indian sports needs right now, as his argument suggested. He stated that the French won the world cup because they have ‘democratised’ their team selection and there have not been many Dalit Indian cricket players. 

The multiple apologies of the Propagandist-in-Chief

Rajdeep Sardesai had claimed in 2017 that the VC of BHU had attended Narendra Modi’s rally in Varanasi. However, soon he was forced to issue an apology after admitting that it was a case of ‘mistaken identity’.

Another apology was related to a manipulated interview of Sri Sri Ravishankar. After a viewer registered a complaint regarding the same, the ‘journalist’ replied to the viewer expressing his regrets and said that an apology was issued on air and to Sri Sri in person as well. In addition he said that the channel had “put in place systems to ensure that pre recorded interviews do not run in live discussions at any stage”.

Rajdeep Sardesai and complicated relationship with facts

Soon after Delhi riots, Rajdeep Sardesai tried to blame BJP leader Kapil Mishra for the violence. The locals shut him up. Prior to that, during Delhi assembly elections, Rajdeep Sardesai shared fake news on Amit Shah’s rally. He deleted tweet twice after people pointed reality out to him. During anti-CAA riots, Sardesai called Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan a ‘BJP agent’. He shut him up and how. When Islamic mob ran riots and set buses on fire to oppose CAA, Sardesai painted them all as peaceful and patriotic.

After Narendra Modi led NDA alliance won the 2019 elections, Sardesai said PM Modi should thank terrorist Masood Azhar and others for BJP’s victory. He had also shamelessly twisted PM Modi’s comment on Congress’ “Hindu terror” bogey. In October 2018 he was found lying about the Amritsar train tragedy. Oh and to top it all in March 2017, India Today issued a wrong corrigendum for a lie he had spread.

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OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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