Opposition seeks probe into Arnab Goswami's chats with former BARC chief

There is a growing clamour among Congress leaders to take up the issue. Party leaders, on condition of anonymity, told Hindustan Times that the issue had been discussed by Congress Lok Sabha MPs. Leaders familiar with the matter said the issue was raised by Congress Lok Sabha MP Karti Chidambaram.
The latest salvo against Arnab Goswami came from Congress party MP Manish Tewari, who said a joint parliamentary committee should take up the issue as the government and BJP remained silent.(Prashant Waydande / Hindustan Times)
The latest salvo against Arnab Goswami came from Congress party MP Manish Tewari, who said a joint parliamentary committee should take up the issue as the government and BJP remained silent.(Prashant Waydande / Hindustan Times)
Published on Jan 18, 2021 12:15 AM IST
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ByDeeksha Bhardwaj, New Delhi

Opposition politicians on Sunday demanded a probe of purported WhatsApp chats of Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of Republic TV, and Partho Dasgupta, former chief executive officer of the TV audience measurement agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), in which the former makes remarks that his critics say show he may have had advance knowledge of the Indian Air Force strike on a terrorist camp in Pakistan’s Balakot.

The latest salvo against Goswami came from Congress party MP Manish Tewari, who said a joint parliamentary committee should take up the issue as the government and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) remained silent.

“If what sections 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,” Tewari wrote on Twitter.

The chats form part of Mumbai police’s 3,600-page supplementary charge sheet in a recent scandal over alleged manipulation of TV ratings.The over 500-page transcript of WhatsApp conversations between Goswami and Dasgupta sparked allegations of collusion and alleged access the TV news anchor had to classified information.

Three days before the February 26, 2019 IAF strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Balakot, in reprisal for the February 14, 2019, Pulwama terrorist attack that left 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers dead, Goswami allegedly said in one of the chats that “something big will happen”, indicating he knew about the military action before it took place.

Even Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra 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?”

There is a growing clamour among Congress leaders to take up the issue. Party leaders, on condition of anonymity, told Hindustan Times that the issue had been discussed by Congress Lok Sabha MPs. Leaders familiar with the matter said the issue was raised by Congress Lok Sabha MP Karti Chidambaram.

“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.”

Congress functionaries say they are studying the documents closely and will respond to the issue later.

Senior party leader such as Jairam Ramesh, Jitendra Singh, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Karti Chidambaram posted public comments on 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 reaction 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 {television rating points},” Singhvi said.

Ramesh added that BARC was aiding “weapons of mass disinformation”.

“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.

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Monday, January 24, 2022