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Smriti Irani pulls up PTI news agency for posting 'Modi-Nitish' image, gets photo removed

After recently getting additional charge of one of the more prestigious ministries in the Cabinet, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Smriti Irani is making sure that she continues to take controversial decisions. On Monday, this took the form of pulling up the news agency PTI which provides news stories and photographs on a lot of issues in India.

The important issue which caught the IB minister's eye was a tweet PTI had put out which showed men in Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar masks celebrating Friendship Day. The link between the image and the story it accompanied was tenuous at best as it was about Nitish Kumar urging the Centre to allocate funds for the lower judiciary in Bihar.

Irani took umbrage to the photograph and shot off a tweet expressing her displeasure and questioning PTI's "official stand".

PTI quickly reacted and deleted the tweet. They had also released the photograph separately to media outlets but later issued a 'kill' alert which is media jargon for withdrawing a picture. They also issued an apology and said that they had withdrawn the picture.

Irani has been keeping a close eye on PTI for some time now as this is the second time which she has found apparent cause for the news agency to apologise, although earlier, her reason for expressing displeasure was less controversial. Earlier, a photograph of flooding at the Chennai airport was captioned as flooding at the Ahmedabad airport and was used by major newspapers before Irani pointed out the mistake. The photographer responsible for the mistake was later fired and PTI said that they regretted the mistake.

However, while the flood photograph was a clear mistake and Irani was right in pointing that out, PTI's mistake in the present case is hard to discern. The image is simply of political workers wearing masks of leaders. These masks are not illegal and are worn at many political rallies as a sign of support. Further, Modi and Kumar are now allies in Bihar. Thus, portraying them as friends hardly seems problematic. The fact that Irani is in charge of the I&B ministry makes this even more worrisome.

Updated Date: Aug 08, 2017 08:32 AM

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