Writing in his blog on 25 June, Rifat Jawaid, had lamented the spectacular transformation of Times Now from an erstwhile news channel into an entertainment reality TV.
Just few weeks later, the channel is proving that assertion right as it faces wide condemnation from Twitter users, who have also mocked the so-called journalism of the channel.
This after the channel joined the right-wing Hindutva bandwagon to malign the UPA nominee for the Vice President’s job, Gopalkrishna Gandhi.
The channel posted a tweet on Monday informing audience about its intention to debate if Gandhi could pass ‘patriotism pariksha (exam).’
Its tweet said, “‘Patriot pariksha for UPA’s V-P candidate GK Gandhi,does he pass or fail?’”
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) July 17, 2017
The channel didn’t just leave the subject here. As if under instruction from someone higher up in the corridors of power in Delhi, the topic also dominated the Newshour, which started soon after Rahul Shivshankar’s programme.
Times Now, which enjoyed an uninterrupted run of being the market leaders for several years, was recently dislodged to the second position when its former editor-in-chief, Arnab Goswami launched Republic TV.
Unlike other channels, Republic was launched with an unashamed agenda of promoting nationalism and right-wing Hindutva cause. One of the channel’s promoters is Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who’s also an NDA MP in Rajya Sabha. The channel’s other promoters include Mohandas Pai, a former Infosys executive and also a known supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Incidentally, Times Now decided to question Gandhi’s patriotism just days after Chandrasekhar first tweeted the following, “Filing a mercy petition for someone who was convicted for mass murder is a campaign theme to be Vice President ?”
Filing a mercy petition for someone who was convicted for mass murder is a campaign theme to be Vice President ? ?? pic.twitter.com/yTt09aidJD
— Rajeev Chandrasekhar (@rajeev_mp) July 16, 2017
Chandrasekhar too received Twitter roasting but not many were shocked given his open association with the Hindutva parties.
But Times Now, part of India’s Times Group media family, toeing the lines of an NDA member of parliament to cast aspersion on the grandson of India’s Father of Nation left social media users angry. Gandhi, among his other past roles, had also held the office of West Bengal Governor in the past.
RSS, the ideological mentor of the BJP, has always been accused of writing mercy pleas to the British while India’s freedom fighters preferred martyrdom to end the foreign rule in India. Mahatma Gandhi, who single-handedly orchestrated India’s freedom from the British, was murdered by Nathuram Godse, an RSS supporter.
It took the RSS 52 years to agree to hoisting the national flag at its headquarters in Nagpur. And when few passionate Indians tried to forcibly fly the tricolour at its office, the right-wing Hindutva organisation had filed criminal case against all three activists.
Not many would know that on 26 January 2001, three activists in Nagpur were arrested for forcibly hoisting the national flag at an RSS office. The legal battle continued and the activists, of Rashtrapremi Yuwa Dal– its president Baba Mendhe, Ramesh Kalambe and Dilip Chattani, were acquitted of charges only after 12 years of a prolonged legal battle.
The court of RR Lohia acquitted the men in 2013 for lack of evidence.
Now that the background is out of our way, let’s see how Twitter users reacted to Times Now’s attack on Gandhi’s grandson.
Ashamed this is not journalism. Opposing the death penalty is no crime. Do a "patriot pariksha" for Godse maybe? https://t.co/LvXnIAHfER
— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) July 18, 2017
This little weasel asking Gopal Gandhi to pass a patriotism pariksha is like Baba Ramdev asking Einstein to pass a science test pic.twitter.com/nT5nf4vHcc
— IndiaExplained (@IndiaExplained) July 18, 2017
— Prasanto K Roy (@prasanto) July 18, 2017
Thy moved far away frm #Journalism long back. A well respected media Grp reduced to a propaganda mouthpiece! How sad fr them n fr d country!
— Hemanth DP (@DPHemanth) July 18, 2017
Godse ‘s gang is on ruling spree & these fish marketers sanghis still so obsessed with gandhi & family .. dark black spot on journalism !
— P E P P E R (@sadaf_rajput_) July 18, 2017