Yesterday (16th May) at 11.00 pm, Headlines Today ran a program anchored by Mr Rahul Kanwal in which Mr Nitin Gadkari participated. There was also Mr Pirzada supposed to be a security analyst from Pakistan. The topic was supposed to be the “International Response to Modi’s victory”.
The way this program was conducted by Mr Rahul Kanwal and the way Mr Gadkari handled the provocation left one in doubt as to what was the intention of the channel and what was the maturity of Mr Gadkari in handling such sensitive topics.
I want the media managers of BJP to view this program once again and see how damaging it can be on the image of BJP in general and Mr Modi in particular. At a time when the whole world is looking at M Modi’s policies with an eye of suspicion, such interviews are likely to spark further doubts and make it difficult for Mr Modi to soften the current impression circulating in the media about Modi’s foreign policy.
All media observers in India are aware that Indian TV channels have been running a relentless anti Modi campaign for a long time. Headlines today with its editorial team of Rahul Kanwal and Javed Ansari have been in the forefront of a misinformation campaign to discredit Mr Modi through out the campaign time Now Head Lines Today appears to be continuing its mischievous propaganda against Mr Modi as indicated by yessterday’s interview and hence it is essential for Mr Modi to watch out.
In yesterday’s interview, initially the discussion was on US response and the US representative was reasonable and stated that Mr Obama will call sooner than later and try to mend the misunderstandings if any between Mr Modi and US on the VISA issues.
However once Mr Rahul Kanwal invited response from Mr Pirzada, as expected he started with a rhetoric on muslims being harmed by Mr Modi etc. The discussion was on a sensitive Indi-Pak relationship issue and at a time when the world is eager to know the views of the yet to be formed Modi Government.
Mr Gadkari was introduced as one of the confidants of Mr Modi and one of the “NavRatnas” and hence his views were blown up in importance by Mr Rahul Kanwal. His RSS connection was also highlighted.
It was necessary for Mr Gadkari at this point of time to be discreet, and a measured diplomatic response was called for. However MR Gadkari showed complete immaturity in handling the sensitive situation and started accusing Paksitan and its support to terrorism etc.
The discussion then went on to show case that Pakistan and India are nuclear powers. Mr Rahul Kanwal took advantage of Gadkari speaking in Hindi and made some wrong translations further provoking MR Pirzada with statements such as BJP would pursue hot chase to destroy terrorists in Pakistan like what USA did. Mr Gadkari fell into the trap and kept insisting that India would give a strong response etc.
This was unwarranted and undiplomatic. The Pakistani coutnerpart warned that Delhi will be destroyed if they pursue aggressive policies and Gadkari continued to match the slang saying that we are also a nuclear power etc.
At one level it looked like a battle of words between two immature persons. But the intention of Mr Rahul Kanwal in instigating such a virulent discussion appeared doubtful. It appeared that he wanted to discredit the BJP Government. I am sure that this interview will be further played up from time to time in future and will be used as a reflection of Indian policy on Pakistan. In my opinion, the damage has already been done and what is now required is to do a damage control.
I wish to bring this interview to the attention of the media managers of BJP and seek their immediate intervention both for issuing necessary clarification as well as prevent recurrence of similar instances in future. It is necessary that leaders of BJP should realize that the elections are now over and their interaction with the media now should be as a party in power. People like Ms Nirmala Sitharaman are very diplomatic despite being firm when interacting with the media. People like Mr Gadkari donot seem to have the necessary expertise in handling the media more so when they handle mischievous and motivated anchors like Rahul Kanwal. They should refrain from participating in discussions especially when high image stakes are involved.
BJP should also set up a cell for “Media Watch” which should be able to monitor such programs and intervene proactively in real time when required so that the image of BJP and Mr Modi which is still fragile in the international media is not damaged.
A word of advise to Mr Rahul Kanwal. Assuming that you did not have any mischevous intention of sparking off a Indo-Pak nuclear war through a TV debate, I would like to state that you appeared to be incapable and incompetent of handling the sensitive discussion without being inimical to the Indian national interests. Introspect.