Congress says 'India under Narendra Modi anything but free', slams BJP after reports claim 2 ABP journalists resigned under pressure

Resignation of two journalists from ABP News Network — Managing Editor Milind Khandekar and journalist Punya Prasun Bajpai, has created a stir on Twitter, and caused the Congress to allege government interference in the functioning of the network's newsroom. While Khandekar's tweet was non-committal, reports have claimed that Bajpai quit after pressure mounted on him after airing a story on his show Masterstroke.

 Congress says India under Narendra Modi anything but free, slams BJP after reports claim 2 ABP journalists resigned under pressure

Journalist Punya Prasun Bajpai used to host Masterstroke on ABP News. Twitter/@ppbajpai

Bajpai ran a story on his show which showed video interaction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with beneficiaries of various government programmes held on 20 June. A participant from Chhattisgarh, Chandramani Kaushik, told the prime minister on the show that her income had doubled after she switched from cultivating paddy to growing custard apples. The show, however, reported that the woman had been tutored to make false claims. The story was promptly picked up by the Congress which tweeted out a video, and said, "Evidence is surfacing that ABP News is seeing journalists resign and benched due to their involvement in stories criticising the Central Govt. Watch how in the age of free information, India under Modiji seems to be anything but free."

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi did not let the opportunity pass and tweeted the story and said:

Using the hastag #FreeMediaDiedInIndia, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal joined the bandwagon and criticised the BJP government for killing "independent media". https://twitter.com/ArvindKejriwal/status/1025032438773428224 Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala also tweeted, saying that the resignations were the result of an attempt to “suppress truth being spoken to power”.

ABP News Network has maintained silence regarding the resignations even as social media has been discussing it quite fervently. Exchange4media quoted Avinash Pandey, the ABP News chief operating officer, who said, "Khandekar has been instrumental in shaping and strengthening the editorial structure at ANN during this illustrious association. His service has been indeed much valuable to the organization. It has been an honor working with a wonderful colleague like him all these past years. We wish him boundless success in all his future endeavors."

BJP slammed Bajpai's show

Bajpai's show was heavily criticised by many Union ministers, including Rajyavardhan Rathore, the minister of state for information and broadcasting and defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Reports have alleged that since the show aired, leaders from Bharatiya Janata Party have been reluctant to appear on ABP News. Scroll, in fact, reported that a few Twitter users had flagged the fact that they had been unable to get access to ABP news at the time when Masterstroke, Bajpai's show, was being aired.

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Updated Date: Aug 03, 2018 11:51:28 IST