Delhi’s deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said that for the first time in India’s history, journalists were being questioned over their patriotism, and in the same breath, took a swipe at them, saying they wanted to resolve national issues in their studios.
Speaking at the orientation ceremony at Amity University in Noida on Friday, the senior Aam Aadmi Party leader took a critical view of how journalism was being targeted but didn’t go easy on journalists themselves.
“I, myself, have been a journalist for years and this is for the first time that journalists are being questioned on whether they are patriotic or not. They are being divided into binaries. Female journalists are facing sexual harassment and abuse on Twitter,” said Sisodia, while addressing the new students at Amity University in Sector 125.
Sisodia was referring to the recent spat between two prominent journalists over reporting on the Kashmir agitation. Taking a jibe at the controversy, he said television channels today wanted to resolve the India-Pakistan issue in their studios.
“Patriotism is being run in studios. The ones who beat their chest for our army’s soldiers in their studio are not concerned about them; they are just concerned that a news channel in competition has different views from them. They wish to resolve Indo-Pak diplomatic issues in their studios,” Sisodia said.
Critical of the ‘pseudo patriotism’ of some, he said love for one’s country should not be limited to its map, but should extend to its people too.
“Loving India is not just restricted to loving India’s map. That love should be for India’s people too. There are people who respect the national flag but suppress others. That is ‘farzi rashtrawad (false patriotism)’. In my opinion, an infiltrator bringing drugs or weapons in our country is as dangerous as a sweet shop owner mixing adulterated materials in his product,” Sisodia said.
Addressing media students, he said journalists needed to take a stand, whether right or wrong, and should not be neutral in their approach to issues.
“To report facts is journalism. Journalists should not be neutral in these times and must take a stand, whether on the right side or wrong. Today, journalism has been restricted as the act of balancing. Reporters get a byte from BJP, Congress and AAP and then they run the story. Journalism is about finding the truth and reporting it,” said Sisodia.
The deputy chief minister parried questions from the students, one of which was about how social media was changing the relevance of news organisations.
“Today, an adivasi boy in Chhattisgarh can connect to people on his own through social media. He doesn’t need TV channels and newspapers to tell the world about how an adivasi lives. That is the power of social media. It has broken the pretentious illusions and arrogance of media houses that they and only they control the news.”
Sisodia however refused to be drawn into a discussion over his tweets.
On being asked about a recent tweet he posted on the Gurgaon traffic jam where he said merely changing names will not bring development and ‘jumlas’ will not remove jams, he simply said, “I said whatever I had to in my tweet.”