The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) on Tuesday joined the Editors Guild of India in urging all political leaders and public figures to stop levelling baseless charges against the media and keep the discourse ahead of the Lok Sabha elections “civil and sane.”
While the Guild had issued a similar statement on Monday in view of certain remarks made by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal, the NBA weighed in after a controversy broke out over Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde threatening the electronic media for carrying out “propaganda” against the Congress. The NBA statement is also critical of Mr. Kejriwal for attributing motives for the media ignoring his party.
As criticism mounted about his remarks made in Solapur, Mr. Shinde said he had never said the electronic media should be demolished or crushed. “My comments were on the social media with regard to the issue related to the Northeast students who were being targeted in Hyderabad and Karnataka.”
Mr. Shinde’s clarification did not help matters, as it opened yet another front with Twitter users training their guns at him all day. As is the case with the social media, those who commented did not mince words; some posted edited images of Mr. Shinde that showed him in a poor light.
Reacting to the uproar, Congress spokesman Shaktising Gohil said: “The Congress has always held the media in high esteem. We meet our critics with the same cordiality as we do others. When there was a blackout for a short while in Parliament, the BJP shrieked from the rooftops, but in the Gujarat Assembly the cameras have been switched off permanently. Mr. Shinde was referring to [BJP prime ministerial candidate] Narendra Modi’s paid band on the social media.”
Condemning Mr. Shinde’s remarks, BJP spokesman Prakash Javdekar said: “This reveals the real face of the Congress. It reflects the dictatorial DNA of the Congress.”
Comparing the mood in the Congress camp after the drubbing in the Assembly elections to the thinking in the party during the JP Movement of 1975 and the subsequent declaration of Emergency, he said the Congress was democratic only when it had a comfortable majority.