Bharatiya Janata Party national spokesperson Sambit Patra on Saturday lashed out at a journalist who authored an anti-Narendra Modi article in TIME magazine, and also hit out at Congress president Rahul Gandhi with the same brickbat. Addressing a press conference in Delhi, Patra said: "The man who called Modi divider-in-chief is a Pakistani man, he is a Pakistani citizen. You all know what Pakistan is like. They hate Narendra Modi because he did the two surgical strikes on them. What else is there to say? But Rahul Gandhi is tweeting about it."
Patra's caustic comments were directed at author and journalist Aatish Taseer, who wrote this month's TIME magazine's cover story titled India's Divider-in-Chief. This title pertains to the article in the magazine with the headline "Can the World's Largest Democracy Endure Another Five Years of a Modi Government?" The article is heavily critical of the prime minister, who, it states, has created "an atmosphere of poisonous religious nationalism in India."
The write-up also compares former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru's idea of secularism with the prevailing social "stress" under Modi who "demonstrated no desire to foster brotherly feelings between Hindus and Muslims," the article read. Besides, the article also recalled the Gujarat riots of 2002.
However, Patra issued a strong rebuttal to the arguments made in the article in his presser. He also penned an op-ed in today's (11 May) The Indian Express, titled Under cover of a story, where he argued that the TIME article was a heavily biased take on Modi's performance in the last five years.
"There is a crucial word missing from the rambling lead article in TIME magazine, which purports to be an analysis of five years of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. The missing word is 'corruption'. Any balanced report would have mentioned, even if it was only grudgingly, that one of the most important reasons for Narendra Modi’s victory in 2014 was the pervasive corruption that had become synonymous with Congress rule between 2004 and 2014, bolstered by smaller parties who picked up their share, through a voiceless Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who paid the price of his office with silence. You can rest assured that if there had been even an iota of credible evidence of corruption against Modi or his ministers, it would have dominated the diatribe that has been published under the guise of journalism by TIME."
However, Patra's claim that Rahul was tweeting about the article seems to be unfounded as we did not find any reference to the article on the Congress president's Twitter feed. It is, however, possible that an earlier tweet on the subject may now have been retracted.
Meanwhile, Aatish's report sparked a debate on Twitter, with 5,100 comments on his tweet promoting the article at the time of writing this article. His Wikipedia page too was mangled "with the intention to vandalise the page and ruin the reputation of the person the article is about." A look at the edit history of the page shows the article was edited around 78 times on 10 May, the day the article was released. Many of the reverts to previous versions cite "removing fake information" as the reason for edit. This is unusual activity for the page, as seen from the fact that before 10 May, the article was last edited in January this year. Also, Wikipedia moderators have now made the page 'protected' due to ‘persistent disruptive editing’, which means that further changes to the page's content will only reflect after due moderation and review. The page has now been restored.
Wikipedia is an open source encyclopedia allowing anyone to edit any unprotected page and improve articles immediately for all readers.
Aatish is a London-based author/ journalist who is the son of Indian journalist Tavleen Singh and Pakistani politician Salman Taseer, who was assassinated for his vocal criticism of Pakistan's notorious blasphemy law. He was killed after he openly supported pardon for Pakistani christian woman Asia Bibi, who was recently granted refuge in Canada.
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Updated Date: May 12, 2019 13:54:30 IST