Chandrashekhar Bawankule, the head of the Maharashtra BJP, is heard in a viral audio clip purportedly directing party members to take journalists to dhabas and treat them well in order to prevent bad press before elections.
A viral audio clip of Chandrashekhar Bawankule, the chairman of the Maharashtra BJP, allegedly requesting that journalists be treated nicely and taken to dhabas to avoid negative publicity before elections has led to accusations that the BJP is attempting to control the media.
Bawankule allegedly gave these “instructions” to a group of BJP activists in Ahmednagar as he was speaking to them about managing polling places.
Bawankule revised his position in response to criticism from the opposition, saying that he just intended for party employees to treat journalists with respect and to attempt to learn their thoughts on the designated booths.
According to the audio, Bawankule occasionally presents a little occurrence as if a bombing has occurred because they work as part-time video journalists for news websites and live in booth areas.
“Make a list of these trouble-making journalists, whether they work for the print or electronic media, and invite them to dhabas for a cup of tea so they won’t write anything disparaging about us before Maha Vijay 2024. You understand what I mean when I ask them over for tea,” he said.
Sujay Vikhe Patil, a local BJP MP, is available if there are any issues, he added.
“Bring them to the dhabas. Be kind to them and watch out that nothing bad is spoken about us. There ought to be good news about us. First, safeguard your own booths, advised Bawankule.
Vijay Wadettiwar, the head of the Maharashtra opposition, reacted angrily and remarked, “Not all journalists are sold out. Do you believe that journalists take crumbs? I can understand your leaders’ unease, both at the top and at the local level, because they were unable to silence the voice of dissent. However, you immediately began making offers to journalists?
This implies that you (the BJP) would attempt to provide some “crumbs” to voters as well before elections, Wadettiwar claimed, adding that the populace will undoubtedly tear the BJP apart.
Bawankule’s words, according to State Congress President Nana Patole, are offensive to the media community.
“While the BJP made them appear cheap, the Congress gave journalists the respect they deserved. The media fraternity is being devalued, he claimed.
Is BJP Maharashtra state president Chandrashekhar Bawankule telling BJP workers to treat the journalists who speak the truth or is his speech a covert threat to honest journalists?, asked Clyde Crasto, national spokesperson for the NCP (Sharad Pawar faction), on X.
The voice of the opposition, according to NCP MP Supriya Sule, is a virtue of democracy, but the BJP does not tolerate criticism.
“In a democracy, newspapers serve as the opposition, yet the BJP state president is teaching classes on how to stifle the press. It is an unacceptable action and a severe concern, she said.
Sule claimed that Bawankule’s manner of making comments indicates that he has some prior experience.
The BJP has a policy of interfering with journalists’ ability to do their jobs. The BJP should either acknowledge that it rejects democracy or apologize to the populace and media, she said.
Later, Bawankule clarified that he meant that journalists are so crucial that they have the power to alter public opinion.
Why should there be prejudice towards journalists, who are also voters? If you don’t meet them, communicate with them, or ask for their input, it won’t be good. I offered them (BJP workers) guidance like this,” Bawankule told reporters.
Devendra Fadnavis, the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra and a prominent member of the BJP, stated that what Bawankule said and how it has been received are two different things.
There is no need to read anything else from his remarks. When speaking to your party staff, you may occasionally use a lighter tone when saying certain things. There is no need to stir up a fight,” he continued.