India Today’s Rahul Kanwal recently interviewed Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal during his channel’s annual conclave, where the senior BJP leader was a guest. However, a clip of that interview has now become a topic of dominant discussion on social media because of Kanwal’s decision to not succumb to Goyal’s perceived bullying when asked uncomfortable questions on the Indian air strikes in Balakot.
Kanwal had questioned Goyal about the ambiguity that existed over the success of the Indian airstrikes in Balakot. The Indian Air Force has not confirmed the BJP’s claims of 300-400 terrorists being killed. He asked the minister in the Narendra Modi government if he would contemplate giving evidence to support India’s claims and convince the public at large.
This question appeared to irk Goyal, who reacted angrily and even accused Kanwal of joining the group of people who, according to the BJP leader, were working against the interests of India. Launching a tirade, he said, “Are you convinced first?”
Kanwal tried to explain by saying, ‘I will answer’ but Goyal was unstoppable. He continued, “Are you a part of this narrative that belittles our armed forces?” Then addressing the audience, Goyal asked, “Are any one of you in this room subscribing to what Rahul Kanwal is saying, trying to belittle our Indian armed forces and trying to prove that they are lying? Is that what your intention is Rahul? ”
Goyal was in mood to allow the India Today anchor to explain the rationale behind his question. He continued, “I wonder where this world and country is going if you are going to have this kind of thinking also that you are going to accept what Pakistan says and colleagues of yours are going to propagate the Pakistani theory in India. It’s a matter of shame.”
Kanwal calmly reminded Goyal, “Minister, my job as a journalist here is to ask a question.” Goyal interrupted, “Are you questioning the armed forces and what they’ve said. I have no answer, I have not been there. I was not the pilot, who was firing in Pakistan, I was not the pilot, who was taking revenge. But if you suspect that our armed forces have not done their job, then it’s a very very sorry position for a senior journalist like you from a very reputed media house, where I am sitting here today.”
Kanwal made another attempt to complete his clarification as he said, “Minister I am an army officer’s son.” Once again, Goyal interrupted, “I believe that your father must have told the truth.” Kanwal replied, “My father is one of India’s foremost military experts.” Once again, Goyal interrupted, “So are all those people, who attacked Pakistan, who went across the Line of Control and protected India’s unity and integrity.”
Without mincing words, Kanwal told Goyal, “Minister, neither me nor anyone sitting here needs any lesson on nationalism and patriotism from you or anybody else. This is not a simplistic binary. It’s not as if; if we don’t believe you, we are anti-national.”
Goyal replied, “It’s the army and the air force. I have not said anything.”
Kanwal interrupted to remind Goyal, “Sir, the army and the air force haven’t said anything. They haven’t said that they took down 300-400 targets. We had Sambit Patra from the BJP, first say 300 then he said 400. I am now beginning to wonder whether there’s a need to demonstrate evidence. That’s the question. Nobody is questioning the army. A question to a BJP minister doesn’t become a question to the army.”
The video of Kanwal not being intimidated by Goyal’s bullying has now gone viral with social media users applauding the India Today anchor for his bravery.
Proud of Rahul Kanwal for standing up the way he did to the bully, Piyush Goyal. Proud that he's a Gunner's son like me. How dare these shameless BJP types question anyone's patriotism! pic.twitter.com/NqDE96J6Sw
— Mandeep Singh Bajwa (@MandeepBajwa) March 4, 2019
Journos should note down this rule of #NewIndia
Even a valid question to a senior mantri – put forward in a respectful manner – will be responded with personal barbs / name calling / ridicule etc.
Wonder how @rahulkanwal kept his cool#respect
Full Vid- https://t.co/sYZZXB6W8V pic.twitter.com/zkKO0hzntg
— Akash Banerjee (@akashbanerjee) March 4, 2019
At the India Today Conclave Rahul Kanwal's words – "I don't need a certificate on nationalism or patriotism" is what every Indian citizen has been saying to the arrogant BJP government since 2014.
— Gaurav Gogoi (@GauravGogoiAsm) March 5, 2019
Love how Rahul Kanwal kept his cool and gave it back to the minister in this case. Are journalists not allowed to ask a question also now? https://t.co/b5XEB4hKBp
— Shilpa Nair (@NairShilpa1308) March 5, 2019
BJP President Amit Shah had on Sunday claimed that the Indian air strikes killed more than 250 terrorists in Balakot. Air Force Chief Air Marashal BS Dhanoa, when asked, had told reporters in Coimbatore that he was not in a position to verify that claim. His deputy Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor too had said that it was premature to confirm any number of casualties.
The desperation among the BJP to extract the much-needed electoral mileage ahead of the Lok Sabha polls from the tension at the LoC has prompted Shah and other party leaders such as Sambit Patra to make astonishingly unverified claims about the success of the air strikes in Balakot.