Nagpur/New Delhi: Targeting the media again, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal alleged large sections of it were indulging in “paid publicity” favouring BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and threatening to jail them if his party won. He retracted Friday after his comments led to an uproar from media and political parties.
The Editors Guild of India said the repeated attacks on the media by Kejriwal “violates the norms of decent democratic debate.”
The AAP leader’s remarks, made at a private Rs.10,000 per plate gala fund-raising dinner at the deluxe Hotel Tuli International in Nagpur late Thursday, came to light when a video of the proceedings leaked out early Friday.
“Since past one year, the media has been drumming support for Modi in people’s minds. An aura is sought to be created that corruption would end and Ramrajya will come if Modi is elected,” Kejriwal said.
“Why such a thing is happening? Because businessmen have paid money to media and television channels to promote Modi,” he alleged.
Reiterating his statements in Mumbai two days ago, Kejriwal said that 800 farmers committed suicide in Gujarat in the past decade, but the media never highlighted this.
Naming a private corporate hosue which was allegedly given land at Re.1 an acre, he said no TV channel exposed it, but the very same TV channels go on showing how Kejriwal has taken increased levels of security.
“To hell with my security… But, the media will not reveal the truth about Modi,” he said.
Smelling “a big conspiracy,” Kejriwal added that this time, “the entire media has sold itself” and if AAP came to power, he would jail corrupt businessmen and the media.
Confronted on his comments Friday morning by an angry media, he initially declined to comment and then virtually retracted: “How can I speak against you (the media)?”
By then, the entire media and all political parties unitedly condemned Kejriwal’s remarks with AAP leaders in New Delhi facing a barrage of uncomfortable questions from media but defending their leader.
This was the second time in a single day during Kejriwal’s three-day Maharashtra campaign that the AAP attacked the media for various reasons.
On Thursday, the AAP blamed the media and Mumbai police for the chaos and confusion during Kejriwal’s trip to Mumbai the previous day when he travelled by autorickshaw, a suburban train and later addressed a rally in Kannamwar Nagar.
At a press conference in Delhi, AAP defended Kejriwal, saying that they will approach the Election Commission against three news channels which they accused of being biased towards Modi.
Speaking to reporters, former journalist Ashish Khetan who has been given ticket from the New Delhi constituency, said that media was unfairly targeting the AAP.
“There are so many issues but the media is behind only Arvind Kejriwal. Not even one question is being asked about Modi’s rallies,” he said.