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Indian Politicians’ Love-Hate Relationship With Media

MEDIA and political leaders have always had a love-hate relationship but this has become extremely bitter sometimes in recent past. An ‘antagonistic cooperation’ seems to have developed between politicians and journalists in India in the last few years, especially with the advent of social media.

While journalists and politicians share a tie due to their involvement in the news cycle, the two also used different platforms to target each other.

On several occasions, political leaders have launched a verbal tirade against journalists for asking tough questions. This has led to the use of cuss words and abuses to the charging of journalist fraternity.

Recently, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav’s television interview on a national news channel ruffled feathers on social media. The interview saw Akhilesh Yadav repetitively using the term ‘imaandaar patrakar’ (honest journalist) and ‘imaandaar patrakarita’ (honest journalism) during the conversation with a female news anchor, who took strong exception to the comment, claiming it was being used in a sarcastic manner.

Akhilesh Yadav kept on repeating that he counted her among the most “honest journalists” of the country. He was taken aback with the anchor’s counter attack, who objected to the inherent “sarcasm” in the comment.

While the above-mentioned incident is the latest crackdown, there have been many more cases in the last few years. Here are some of them but, by no means this is an exhaustive list. That would be a lot longer.

Union Minister Ajay Mishra was in December 2021 caught on camera abusing a reporter just because the journalist had questioned the minister about the Lakhimpur Kheri case in which some farmers were allegedly killed by a speeding vehicle belonging to his son’s cavalcade.

When questioned about the charges against his son Ashish Mishra, the Union Minister turned abusive and let go of a flurry of expletives. He also called journalists ‘chor’ (thieves) and tried to snatch the phone of another reporter.

In April 2021, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was caught on camera using an abusive word against an Asian News International cameraperson.

Among those who hit out at the Chief Minister was Akhilesh Yadav. “Please hear the sweet words from ‘manyavar’ to journalists. But use headphones and keep it away from children,” he tweeted in Hindi.

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In February 2020, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MP RS Bharathi insulted journalists and compared media houses to “red-light districts” before accusing them of running a campaign against his party.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Delhi MLA Somnath Bharti was also booked for abusing a woman journalist during a debate. The journalist works for a private TV news channel. Later, Bharti claimed that the news channel was just “misusing” its power. A FIR was lodged at a Noida police station following the journalist’s complaint.

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