Cobrapost editor Aniruddha Bahal has rubbished the allegations that his undercover operation exposing as many as 36 entertainment celebrities was designed to malign the BJP ahead of this year’s Lok Sabha elections. This was after Cobrapost’s Operation Karaoke showed 36 celebrities agreeing to accept money to tweet in favour of political parties, mostly the BJP, by using their social media account.
Speaking to Janta Ka Reporter, Bahal said, “There is no conspiracy at all. There were celebrities willing to do paid socials for AAP and Congress as well.”
The sting operation, whose content dominated social media conversation all throughout Tuesday, had exposed celebrities that included filmstars, stand-up comedians, TV actors and playback singers. Notable among them were Sunny Leonne, Vivek Oberoi, Jackie Shroff, Tisca Chopra, Shakti Kapoor, Sonu Sood, Shreyas Talpade, Amisha Patel, Mahima Chaudhry, Puneet Issar, Surendra Pal, Pankaj Dheer and his son Nikitin Dheer, Deepshikha Nagpal, Akhilendra Mishra, Rohit Roy, Rahul Bhat, Salim Zaidi, Rakhi Sawant, Aman Verma, Hiten Tejwani and wife Gauri Pradhan, Evelyn Sharma, Minissha Lamba and Koena Mitra.
How did he conceive this editorial idea? Bahal said that his team had picked up ‘a lot of anecdotal evidence,’ which prompted him to deploy his reporters on the undercover operation. He said, “Our organisation is reporter driven. The concerned reporters picked up a lot of anecdotal evidence about the phenomena and decided to pursue it.”
When asked if he was surprised to see the kind of eagerness shown by these entertainment celebrities, he said, “Let us say we were not surprised.”
There were at least four actors, Vidya Balan, Raza Murad, Arshad Warsi and Saumya Tandon, who refused to sell their soul for money. They were widely hailed as real heroes on social media on Tuesday. Bahal said, “That was very heartwarming. That option was available to all those 36 celebrities, who were willing to do paid social media but chose not to exercise it.”
Speaking exclusively to Janta Ka Reporter, Saumya had said that she will never sell herself for money.