BJP declares war on mainstream media ahead of 2019

Union tourism minister K Alphons and BJP’s national vice-president Shyam Jaju on Saturday called upon the party’s “cyber warriors” to counter ‘anti-national’ mainstream media

NH photo by Vipin
NH photo by Vipin
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Dhairya Maheshwari

Sounding the poll bugle for the 2019 general elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday asked workers from its powerful Information Technology (IT) Cell to end the “dadagiri” of mainstream media, making extensive use of social media.

“Media is guilty of portraying the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a bad light. Ignore the criticism and don’t react to it. You are all well-equipped in the use of social media. Employ it to end media’s dadagiri,” party’s national vice-president Shyam Jaju said during his address to party’s IT cell workers.

The convention of BJP’s social media workers, attended by close to 1,000 workers and billed as the largest till date, was attended by Union Tourism Minister K Alphons, Minister of Science and Technology Dr Harsh Vardhan and BJP MP and party’s Delhi president Manoj Tiwari among others.

“The media has a habit of manipulating things. They don’t want to portray the truth. All media outlets are the same. Our tool is the social media. It is media versus us for 2019,” Jaju, known to be a close aide of PM Modi and party president Amit Shah, declared.

Union Tourism Minister K Alphons went a step further, alleging that media reports critical of the Modi government were gaining massive traction among “anti-nationals,” including Pakistan’s notorious spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

“A news report had recently highlighted that ISI was behind all the negative reports about Prime Minister Modi and the government. All those criticising the government are helping antinational forces,” said the union minister from Kerala.

The Union Tourism Minister went on to lambast last month’s survey by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, which had called India the most dangerous country in the world for women. “I did my own survey. I found that 80% of foreign tourists felt safe in India,” claimed Alphons.

“But the Thomson Reuters survey did tremendous damage to India’s reputation. All those in the Opposition using the survey to target our government are anti-nationals,” he added.

Pratyush Kanth, a convenor at BJP Delhi’s IT Cell, appealed to party’s workers, to take care of their language as they took on the critics on social media. A former journalist who had switched over from Congress in 2017, Kanth said that mainstream media couldn’t be trusted with the responsibility to report objectively on the government, so it all rested with BJP’s IT Cell to take the message to the people.

Union Science Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan also gave a long-winded address at the meeting, which, in essence, asked the BJP workers to highlight the achievements of the Modi government and do nothing else. “We have done a lot of work on the ground. Don’t trust the media. Just go through our ministry’s websites and tweet out the facts from there,” he said

“But we have to be careful in doing so. We can’t stoop to their level. We on the right are emotional people. We must keep a tab on our emotions as we rebut criticism directed at our Prime Minister. Better, we don’t have to react at all. But if have to, we must be mindful of our language,” said Kanth.

Some of PM Modi’s own colleagues, including Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, have been in the firing line of BJP’s trolls, who accused them of Muslim appeasement and diverting from the hardcore Hindutva line that the BJP has come to champion.

The advice didn’t seem to have gone down well with BJP MP Manoj Tiwari, who went on to recount a trip to Delhi’s Mohalla clinic during his speech.

“I found a horse when I entered one of the mohalla clinics. Inside the other clinic, there was a donkey. I got confused for a moment if the donkey was one of Delhi government’s ministers,” narrated Tiwari, triggering thunderous applause from those present.

Union Science Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan also gave a long-winded address at the meeting, which, in essence, asked the BJP workers to highlight the achievements of the Modi government and do nothing else. “We have done a lot of work on the ground. Don’t trust the media. Just go through our ministry’s websites and tweet out the facts from there,” he said.

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Published: 07 Jul 2018, 8:54 PM