BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra has arguably been the most controversial and polarising TV pannelist in the recent times. He has often faced ridicule for his astonishing claims and distasteful jibes against his political adversaries. Aside from Indian TV channels, Patra too has been blamed for lowering the standards of TV debates because of his bizarre assertions. It was, therefore, not surprising that the reported news of his removal as the BJP spokesperson would send social media users into a frenzy.
After the ‘news’ of Patra being removed as a BJP spokesperson gained momentum on social media, journalists began to discuss everything good, bad and ugly related the politician from Odisha. Journalist Vir Sanghvi wrote, “I don’t know if @_Sambitswaraj has moved on from being spokesman. But at a personal level I have always liked him. When he is on a raucous show, he is raucous. When he is on a serious show, he is sensible. Why target him for doing his job? Blame Indian TV.” Journalist Swati Chaturvedi agreed and wrote, “And, Sambit did it all with a good spirit. The ludicrous demands of “news channels”.” Columnist Salil Tripathi said, “There’s a question of integrity and dignity. Many of us have never met the guy and can only judge him by what we see on TV. Arnab’s friends also say he is lovely in person. Maybe. Does one judge him for being polite at dinner and ignore what he does to the national discourse?”
But, just when the topic of Patra’s reported sacking as a BJP spokesperson was gaining momentum, the saffron party reportedly clarified that there was no truth in the former’s removal. He also continues to feature in the list of BJP spokespersons on the party’s official website.
It was one Facebook post by one ‘Viral in India,’ which appeared to send everyone on a wild goose chase. The Facebook post of ‘Viral in India’ had posted a photo with a caption, that read, “Sambit Patra ko BJP ke pravakta pad se hataya gaya. Ab mandir kaun banayega? Afsos (Sambit Patra has been removed as a BJP spokesperson. Sad, now who will construct the temple?)”
There may not be any truth in the Viral in India’s post, but Patra has indeed been a source of utter embarrassment for his party for quite some time. While some cringed on his public utterances and blamed his party for tolerating his nonsensical statements, others felt that he was tasked by his party leadership to make stupid remarks.
The viral news of Patra’s removal also became a source of social media jokes for many. On Facebook one user wrote, “You are worried about the temple, children are worried about the disappearance of ‘Comedy Wala Uncle’.” “Poor cow will be crying today, asking who will make kohinoor from her dung?”
Patra was recently in the news during the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, where the BJP suffered a defeat at the hands of the Congress. His public statements had included calling the members of the Nehru-Gandhi family as Thugs of Hindostan. He was later compared with cartoon characters Doraemon and Mickey Mouse. And if that was not enough, his own party chief, Amit Shah, forgot his name in a press conference and referred to him as Sandeep Patra.