New Delhi: Former deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani was removed from the BJP Parliamentary Board and sent to the Marg Darshak Mandal (guidance group) of the party after Narendra Modi became prime minister. Denied a Lok Sabha ticket this time, he wrote a blog saying “the essence of Indian democracy is respect for diversity and freedom of expression…”. He also stated that “we have never regarded those who disagree with us politically as anti-national.”
While many saw it as an oblique attack on Modi, the prime minister was quick to react and say: “Advani Ji sums up the true essence of BJP, most notably the guiding mantra of ‘Nation first, party next, self last’.”
A supplementary chargesheet by the Enforcement Directorate in the AgustaWestland case stated that middleman Christian Michel disclosed that the abbreviations in the “budget sheet” related to a senior Congress politician, a family and one of its key aides.
In the programme Left, Right and Centre, anchor Nidhi Razdan wondered if anyone was even listening to Advani – “he has just been dropped from Gandhinagar and it is being said he was not even told about it”.
Advani aide Sudheendra Kulkari denied that the BJP stalwart has lost his standing. “BJP should respect its elders. The fact that PM tweeted shows his blog made an impact on the party leadership,” he said.
Razdan pointed out that there was an irony in the whole episode since Advani protected Modi when Atal Bihari Vajpayee wanted to remove his as Gujarat chief minister post the 2002 pogrom.
The channel also ran headlines to declare Advani’s intent – “Never regarded those who disagreed with me as enemies” and “Need to have respect for diversity, freedom of expression”.
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Several channels focused on the ED’s chargesheet but only Rajdeep Sardesai in his programme revealed that the Gandhi family members have not been named in it. “ED only said they were told by Michel about the initials.”
The channel, however, ran headlines like “According to Christen Michel, `AP’ is Ahmad Patel and `Fam’ is family” and “ED: Agusta middlemen got 70 million dollars in kickbacks” to indicate what the case was all about.
Sardesai also asked BJP’s Vinit Goenka: “Why not name Ahmad Patel as accused?”
To this Goenka replied: “We do not do the investigation, it was an open secret who was AP and who was family – we all know why Quattrocchi (accused in the Bofors case) did not come back to India. The real culprits will be booked.”
Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha said, “The whole world also knows the state of ED, IT, CBI and other agencies under Narendra Modi. He told Michel please implicate someone in the family. It is not embarrassing, it will boomerang on the BJP.”
However, no one asked why the Agusta probe started when the Manmohan Singh government was in power and how come the initials too first emerged then.
The channel ran the hashtag #AgustaRGNote. It also asked: “Who’s the mysterious RG?”
Stating that “ED links Agusta cash to Cong VIPs” and “Confession names Kamal Nath’s kin”, it pointed to the probe and said: “Lens on Agusta middleman Gupta”.
BJP spokesperson Amit Malviya insisted that “Sushen Mohan Gupta’s diary reveals Rs 50 crore paid to RG, clearly it looks like Rahul Gandhi, but it is for the ED to investigate this.”
At this anchor Navika Kumar said the family has much to answer for.
Congress spokesperson Abdur Razzak Khan questioned the timing of the details being made public now.
#AgustaCaseCracked was how the channel described the development. It also ran headlines like “Michel: Fam means family”, “Dalals infiltrated Cong government” and “Dalals infiltrated PMO and CCS” to indicate how top offices were involved in the alleged scam.
Anchor Arnab Goswami read out from the supplementary chargesheet supposedly accessed by the channel and emphasised on the involvement of an “Italian lady with a son” in the case.
He also charged that some journalists were involved in these deals: “Those in print, must print the unprintable truth.”
He also declared that he would “take down these dirty editors and their dirty reporters brick by brick. Some of them may file caveats in the Delhi High Court tomorrow. But the nation will get your name.”
Ravish Kumar’s programme looked at how political parties have been reluctant to field women candidates in these Lok Sabha elections.
A headline, “In chunavon main mahilaon ko paryapt ticket nahin (Women do not get adequate tickets in these polls)” explained the gist of the programme.
It also noted that Trinamool Congress has given the highest percentage of tickets to women at 40.5%. In contrast, BJP gave them only 12% of its total tickets and Congress 13.7%.
Sudhir Chaudhary in his prime time show focused on the United Arab Emirates conferring its highest civilian honour on Modi. He said “the Zayed medal is reserved for kings and heads of states and its recepients include King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Queen Elizabeth of Britain, Chinese president Xi Xinping and Russian president Vladimir Putin.”
The channel also quoted a tweet on the occasion by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj in which she lauded India having “best ever relations with the Islamic world”.
With the headline “UAE ka dil Bharat kay liye dhadka (UAE’s heart beats for India)”, the channel recalled how Swaraj was invited as a guest of honour for the OIC meeting by UAE and how that country has extradited several wanted people to India to assist in its investigations.
The channel showed People’s Democratic Party leader and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti saying that “abolition of Article 370” would severely harm India’s relationship with Kashmir. She was shown saying it would make India’s presence in Kashmir akin to Israeli occupation of Palestine.