Calling it a “bullying” tactic and an “emergency”, the BJP on Thursday hit back at the INDIA bloc’s decision to boycott the shows of 14 television anchors from different channels. Certain media bodies like the National Broadcasters & Digital Association, also slammed the move and called it an “attack on democracy”.
Earlier in the day, the newly formed opposition front listed the names of 14 journalists saying they will not be sending their representatives to their shows.
BJP national president JP Nadda said this was the opposition “emergency mindset era”, which is alive among these parties and this was an exercise of “making ‘lists’ in true Nazi style”.
These days, the I. N. D. I Alliance is ONLY doing 2 things:BASHING SANATANA SANSKRITI – each party is competing to outdo the other in hurling the choicest abuses towards Sanatana Sanskriti.
BULLYING THE MEDIA- filing FIRs, threatening individual journalists, making “lists” in…
— Jagat Prakash Nadda (@JPNadda) September 14, 2023
Talking to news agency ANI, union minister Anurag Thakur said the step taken against the media by the INDIA bloc is “emergency 2.0″. “The steps that the INDI alliance have taken against the media is emergency 2.0… This shows that they do not believe in democracy…” he said.
Thakur said one emergency was declared by Indira, and the other has been declared by the ‘Ghamandiya’ alliance. “They do not trust democracy, you can see the state of affairs in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. Those who used to talk about media autonomy have now taken such a drastic step to repress it,” he added.
BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya, however, said the 14 journalists should wear this as a “badge of honour” as they had “refused to bend when the opposition expected them to crawl”.
So I.N.D.I Alliance has released a list of journalists, who refused to even bend, when the Opposition expected them to crawl. They should wear it as a badge of honour. More power to them… pic.twitter.com/WPwivrLC2q— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) September 14, 2023
The BJP later issued a formal statement condemning the INDIA’s boycott decision, saying it reflected their “oppressive and dictatorial thinking”. “The decision taken by the INDI Alliance parties involved in the arrogant alliance to boycott and threaten journalists is highly condemnable. This reflects their oppressive and dictatorial thinking. BJP strongly condemns this poor mentality of the alliance”, posted Anil Baluni, BJP national media incharge.
“The decision taken by the INDI Alliance parties involved in the arrogant alliance to boycott and threaten journalists is highly condemnable. This reflects their oppressive and dictatorial thinking. BJP strongly condemns this poor mentality of the Alliance”, tweets Anil Baluni,… pic.twitter.com/b9ni1VrYzL— ANI (@ANI) September 14, 2023
INDIA bloc’s media committee took the boycott decision in a virtual meeting in the afternoon. The opposition said it was making this decision with a heavy heart and were not opposed to any of these anchors. But, he said, their love for the country is above all else.
“We have made this decision with a heavy heart. We are not opposed to any of these anchors. We don’t hate any of these anchors. But, we love our country more. We love our Bharat,” said Congress leader Pawan Khera on INDIA’s decision.
Media bodies express concern
The News Broadcasters & Digital Association (NBDA) expressed anguish and concern over the decision, saying it sets a dangerous precedent. The boycott goes against the ethos of democracy, the association said.
“It betokens intolerance and imperils press freedom. The opposition alliance claims to be the champion of pluralism and a free press, but its decision betrays callous disregard for democracy’s most fundamental tenet – the inalienable right to openly express ideas and opinions.
“The boycott of certain journalists/anchors takes the nation back to the Emergency era, when the press was gagged, and independent opinions and voices were crushed,” the NBDA said, urging the opposition alliance to withdraw its decision that amounts to browbeating journalists and stifling freedom of speech and expression.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ), meanwhile, termed the boycott an attack on democracy. It took strong exception to the INDIA bloc’s boycott of some journalists and condemned the same, alleging that the opposition parties have politicised the media.
The president of NUJ linked to the International Federation of Journalists, Ras Bihari, said in a statement that this decision of the opposition parties is a “black chapter” of repression on the media in India’s democratic history. “This is totally wrong and unacceptable,” he said, adding that this reflects the lack of democratic values in these parties.