The Shiv Sena has registered an official complaint with the India Today Group against its anchor Rahul Kanwal for his remarks blaming ‘Sena hoodlums’ for issuing threats to Serum Institute of India chief Adar Poonawalla.
Speaking to his colleague Rajdeep Sardesai, Kanwal had said on Sunday, “..And I actually saw this. He (Poonawalla) sent me some videos of some Shiv Sena local hoodlums showing up outside his factor giving him the choicest of galis (abuses)…This is bizarre.”
Taking a dim view of Kanwal’s extraordinary allegations, the Shiv Sena wrote a letter to India Today founder Aroon Purie demanding action against the anchor in question. It wrote, “I write to you with regards to a fake news being peddled by a senior achor from your news channel. Rahul Kanwal, on his show today claiming “Sena goons” threatened Adar Poonawala for vaccines. This news is absolutely untrue and defamatory.”
Maharashtra’s ruling party also reminded Purie how another anchor from one of his TV channels had cast aspersion on a senior Shiv Sena leader in the past. This was believed to be in reference to a viral video of Aaj Tak anchor Anjana Om Kashyap calling Aaditya Thackeray ‘the Shiv Sena’s Rahul Gandhi.’
Faced with widespread condemnation, Kashyap had apologised. She ahd tweeted, “My remark on Aditya Thackeray which is being spread with malice was out of lapse of judgement. I regret it. This, by no means, reflects the views of the channel or the network.”
Referring to Kanwal’s allegations, the Shiv Sena said, “However, to attach another party president’s video to the Shivsena and to deliberately defame us through misinformation speaks volumes of the political bias of the anchor. It reeks of malice and misinformation campaign, may be to divert the national debate on an important day of election result and as the country rages through COVID-19.”
Demanding action against Kanwal, the Shiv Sena reminded India Today Group how it had acted against Sardesai for his tweets on the 26 January violence during the farmers’ march to Delhi. India Today had taken Sardesai off-air with his salary deducted. The letetr by the Shiv Sena read, “Having faith in the channel’s sense of justice and maintaining the ethics of jounalism, we request you to take action. I recall your group doing so on an earlier occasion for another anchor, so our ask is not misplaced here.”
The ruling party of Maharashtra also demanded an apology from Kanwal as it wrote, “We also expect an express apology from him on the same platforms that he has voiced this fake news on.”
Poonawalla had told London’s The Times newspaper that he was facing threats from India’s rich and powerful on vaccine allocations. He had also refused to comment on the congregation of millions of Hindus and recent election rallies amidst a raging pandemic saying that his head would be chopped off if he chose to react to those events.