Opposition clamour to investigate Arnab Goswami’s leaked chats grows
- A political storm is brewing over the transcript of a purported WhatsApp conversation between Arnab Goswami and former BARC CEO, Partho Dasgupta over Balakot air strikes and Ariticle 370 revocation.
Opposition party leaders are demanding a high-level probe into journalist Arnab Goswami’s alleged leaked chats, suggesting it pointed to collusion and leak of classified security information. The official channels of the Bharatiya Janata Party, however, have so far remained silent on the issue.
The latest salvo against Goswami came on Sunday morning from former Union minister P. Chidambaram and Congress party MP Manish Tiwari, with the latter calling for a joint parliamentary committee probe into the issue. “If what a section of Media is reporting is correct then it points towards a direct linkage between Balakot air strikes and 2019 General elections. Was National Security milked for electoral purposes? Needs a JPC investigation,” Tiwari wrote on Twitter.
Tiwari told Hindustan Times that while one's private chats should not be investigated, Goswami's were a matter of public record in a court of law. "If there is any linkage between the strike and the elections, it must be investigated," he said.
Chidambaram tagged defence minister Rajnath Singh on the issue. "Did a journalist (and his friend) know about the retaliatory strike on Balakot camp three days before the actual strike? If yes, what is the guarantee that their ‘source’ did not share the information with others as well, including spies or informers working for Pakistan? How did a “For Your Eyes Only” decision find its way to the government-supporting journalist? @rajnathsingh," he said.
Even Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra has raised the issue. “Nation Needs to Know: Transcript of WhatsApp chats shows clearly government gave prior information about both Balakot strikes & abolishing Article 370 to TV anchor,” she tweeted. “What is going on? Am I the only one who thinks ModiShah owe us answers?”
An over 500-page long transcript of a purported WhatsApp conversation between Goswami and former Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) CEO, Partho Dasgupta, went viral earlier this week, inviting allegations of collusion and illegal access to highly classified information.
Some Congress leaders are advocating that the issue is taken up in a big way. Party leaders, on the condition of anonymity, told Hindustan Times that the issue was discussed in the Congress’ Lok Sabha MP group, but generated a lukewarm response. Leaders familiar with the matter said that the issue was raised by Congress Lok Sabha MP Karti Chidambaram Friday evening.
“The party must demand answers from the BJP,” a party leader said on the condition of anonymity. “This is not the time to soft-pedal the issue.”
The Congress has not officially taken up the issue yet but party functionaries say they are studying the documents closely and will respond in time.
Senior party leaders such as Jairam Ramesh, Jitendra Singh, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Karti Chidambaram posted publicly about the issue on Saturday.
“Does the @BJP4India have any comments on the #ArnabGate chat details, or is it too trivial to merit a response?,” Karti wrote on Twitter.
“Arnab's chats dated 23.02.2019 refer to sharing of Intel re: action along the Pak border. It means someone very senior in Govt is leaking highly confidential info which may endanger the lives of our soldiers & so that mercenary considerations can add to TRPs,” Singhvi said.
Jairam Ramesh added that BARC was aiding “weapons of mass destruction”. “Since 1967 BARC has stood for Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. Thanks to Arnab Goswami, another self-styled BARC —Broadcast Audience Research Council is in news now. The first BARC built a strong & scientific India. The other BARC is aiding & abetting weapons of mass disinformation,” he posted on Twitter.