Republic TV founder Arnab Goswami was left embarrassed on his own channel on Wednesday night when one of his guests questioned his credentials as a journalist. When asked to explain the source of his degree in journalism, Goswami launched a tirade against organizations and individuals critical of BJP governments at the Centre and in states. He also did not spare his former employer NDTV after his credentials as a journalist was publicly questioned on his own TV channel.
Goswami was discussing the Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to approve the draft of the Uttar Pradesh Private Universities Ordinance 2019 where private universities are required to sign an undertaking to not indulge in ‘anti-national’ activities. Launching the debate, Goswami announced, “When anti-India slogans were raised inside the JNU campus in 2016, the entire nation came together as one to show the tukde gang and its backers their rightful place. Three years have passed and now the Yogi (Adityanath) government takes the decisive step towards blocking, legally and officially anti-national activities inside university campuses. The same lobby is very very nervous now. They should be.”
Addressing one of his guests, identified as Dr. Farooq Khan, who disagreed with his point of view, Goswami said that ‘this tukde tukde gang’ had to be ‘systematically destroyed.’ Earlier in the programme, he had demanded that the same tukde tukde gang ‘should be finished.’ Goswami has used the tukde tukde gang analogy for India’s liberal class, which has often opposed the BJP governments’ communal and anti-Dalit policies.
Farooq was in no mood to take Goswami’s attack lying down. When his turn came, he started very respectfully, even by agreeing with what Goswami was stating. He said, “Arnab, very good I second you.” But his next sentence left even Goswami stunned as Farooq continued, “Arnab, I think you are very misinformed today. You don’t know that we have the Indian Penal Code in this country. You don’t know Section 124 A, you don’t know Section 121.”
Farooq asked Goswami why he has been silent on the BJP sending terror accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur to parliament even after she celebrated the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. “This is what you want to convey?” he asked. Taking objection to his guest’s allegation, Goswami reacted angrily as he asked, “How do you know what I want to convey?” A visibly exasperated Goswami then chided Farooq again, “Why do you want to complete my sentence? You are not me and I am not you.”
To wind Goswami up further, the guest asked, “Arnab, I don’t know why you are so ignorant about the law of this country?” An angry Goswami launched an attack against his own guest as he said, “For a person, who’s accidentally become a lawyer. I don’t know where you did your law from. I feel sorry for your professors. I don’t know what marks you got in your law exams.”
The guest responded, “I don’t know from where you did your journalism…You don’t know anything. You don’t know IPC.”
By this point, Goswami appeared to have reached the boiling point as he launched a full-blown tirade against his guest as he read out the list of cases being pursued by probe agencies against several organizations, critical of the BJP government. Such was his anger that he did not even spare his former employer, the NDTV, as he made a veiled dig by reminding the SEBI action against Prannoy Roy and his wife Radhika Roy.
Goswami said, “I am not the biggest legal expert, I never claimed to be. I am not even a trained lawyer. I have an above average understanding of law…Do you believe in the law when the CBI pulls up Indira Jaising’s NGO, Lawyers Collective, for FCRA violations?…. Let me ask my second question. My second question will be even more stinging…Independent bodies, market regulators are pulling up a certain Lutyen media organization for financial improprieties.”
He asked one of his regular right-wing guests if he should be direct in his attack against the NDTV, where he worked as a reporter and anchor for a considerably long time. Both Goswami and his right-wing guest started laughing.
Both Prannoy and his wife Radhika were banned by SEBI from holding any management positions in NDTV for two years. However, the duo got relief from the appellate authority, which has stayed the SEBI order for now.
Noted author Arundhati Roy too came for Goswami’s sharp attack as he said, “In 2010 and henceforth, a one-time wonder, book wonder, called Arundhati Roy claimed that Kashmir is not a part of India. Not just that, this extremely poorly read, poorly informed, factually illiterate author, who behaves like an open enemy of our country, also justified the 26/11 in the context of her imagined pogroms against Muslims in India.”
Goswami asked why India must ‘give an iota of space’ to this lobby.