Republic TV founder Arnab Goswami has often faced criticism for his hypocrisy while flying the flag for India’s right-wing brigade. His double-standards were on display once again when he debated Trinamool Congress MP Nusrat Jahan’s right to attend a rath yatra in Kolkata recently.
While he was right to defend Jahan’s freedom of choice, while doing so, the controversial anchor further exposed his hypocrisy.
Addressing his guests in the studio, Goswami said, “What’s wrong? It’s extremely good. If Nusrat goes and walks into a rath yatra, and if she conducts an aarti, I think it’s very good. If she’s wearing a sindoor, I think it’s excellent. If she’s wearing bangles in her hand, if she’s wearing red lehengas while being wedded to a Hindu man, it’s a colour associated with Hindu cemremonies, it’s very good. It’s her free will.”
Goswami then drew a parallel with how India’s liberals had defended Zaira Wasim’s right to exercise her free will while abandoning Bollywood as her career because of religious reasons. Goswami said, “The same people in the case of Zaira..In that case they say it’s a freedom of choice.”
No sooner did Goswami complete his opening remarks defending the Trinamool MP for her freedom of choice, one Muslim panelist reminded Goswami how he had done a ‘whole show on Zaira’ criticising her for exercising her freedom of choice.
Criticising 18-year-old Zaira’s decision to quit Bollywood on 1 July, Goswami had launched a hashtag #ZairaQuitsLobbySilent demanding why India’s liberals were not criticising her for exercising her freedom of choice. Goswami had even concluded that Zaira had been bullied by Islamic hardliners into ‘giving up acting.’ He had even launched a tirade against actors such as Aamir Khan, who launched Zaira in Dangal, Shah Rukh Khan, Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhter and Naseeruddin Shah for not condemning the 18-year-old actor’s decision to quit Bollywood.
According to Goswami, an adult, who he refers to as a youth icon, is under pressure from religious hardliners when she exercises her right to choose a career for herself. But when a Muslim MP chooses to adopt Hindu symbols, she becomes a hero or a representative of India’s pluralism.