A day after he threatened to "crush" the electronic media for spreading "false propaganda" against the Congress party, Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Tuesday tried to tone down the controversy by saying that he had referred to social media and not journalism in his comments.
The home minister had made the comments at a Youth Congress event in Maharashtra's Solapur on Monday evening.
"I was referring to the social media and the violence incited against students from the northeast in Hyderabad and Karnataka. My comments were not about journalism," Shinde told PTI.
The home minister had also said that there were efforts by the media to provoke the Congress party.
"The media has opened a front in the past three to four months. We will crush such elements in the electronic media, which are indulging in false propaganda," Shinde had said.
"I have the intelligence department under me. I know who is doing such things."
Shinde's remarks follow a series of opinion polls in the national and regional media, conducted by private agencies, which have predicted a drubbing for the Congress while forecasting an impressive tally for the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Shinde, who is keen to contest the elections from Solapur again, had said the people of India would never forgive those dividing the nation.
"The media should focus on positive stories, which will be welcomed by the people. The people of the country will not accept those dividing the country by disturbing society."
The home minister's remarks were promptly condemned by the Action Committee against Attacks on Journalists.
Shinde's attack against electronic media came even as the Editors Guild of India on Monday objected to "unsubstantiated charges" levelled by public figures dissatisfied with the coverage of their activities or with criticism.
(With PTI inputs)