The Congress has decided to boycott an Aaj Tak show presented by its anchor Rohit Sardana complaining blatant biases in favour of the BJP and its ideology. The party has cited two recent shows to justify its decision.
The two shows in question were aired on 30 July and 13 August, when Priyanka Chaturvedi and Pawan Khera had appeared on Aaj Tak respectively. On both the dates Sardana was discussing the NRC issue of Assam that has excluded 40 lakh of its population from the citizen’s register.
On 13 August, it all started when Sardana launched an all-out attack against Khera and even muted his voice twice on the show and asked him join a drama company. While addressing the Samajwadi Party representative Sardana said, “Your party is saying you are in favour of NRC, Pawan Khera is saying that his party is also not against the NRC. But only two days ago, the same people kept saying openly (that they were against the NRC.) That’s why the perception was built.”
Khera objected to Sardana’s claims that the Congress had opposed the NRC. This angered Sardana, who performed a U-turn on his claims, made only a few seconds ago. This time, reacting angrily, Sardana denied having said that the Congress had opposed the NRC. (You can watch the video from 18.30 mins onward).
Khera alleged that the perception was created by people like Sardana. The anchor then began to raise his voice and said, “If we say things that suit you then its fine. Now you will decide my words and sentences. Stop making interruptions in everything.”
Khera said that the debate on the NRC was to divert the attention from the Rafale scam worth over Rs 100,000 crore under the current Narendra Modi government. This again did not go down well with Sardana, who said that he will invite the Congress panelist when he chooses to debate the topic on his channel.
Things turned ugly towards the end, when Sardana launched a tirade against the Congress spokesperson and said, “Stop this theatrics or join some drama company. Alternatively ask your party to relieve you. Tell them that your retirement has come.”
A senior leader told Janta Ka Reporter that the party had taken a dim view of how Sardana has been behaving with its spokespersons. On 30 July, Sardana, while again discussing NRC (the topic has dominated his debate several times in the last 15 days), had ‘ill-treated’ Priyanka Chaturvedi.
At one point, Sardana was seen losing his temper at Chaturvedi. This was after he asked the Congress spokesperson to make her party’s stand clear on whether India was a shelter home for refugees. To which, Chaturvedi, who was irked on being interrupted, asked the Aaj Tak anchor to ask the same question to the BJP spokesperson. The angry anchor lost his cool and said, “Will you decide who should I ask what? You want to decide the topic of my show.. and if we don’t oblige then you will come and abuse us..”
Chaturvedi replied, “Of course, I can ask you (why you are not asking the same question to the BJP spokesperson.)” Sardana said, “Now you can also abuse us. Now a days your people are also abusing us.”
Sardana’s continuous rude behaviour tested Chaturvedi’s patience as she snapped, “Look you know it very well that I refused to appear on your show when you were with Zee. Here at least I have agreed to come. I don’t represent a party, where such language is used….My upbringing has also not taught me to be abusive to anyone.”
Sardana was in no mood to allow her to speak as he countered, “Stop playing this victim card.”
Sardana has often faced accusations of being utterly biased in favour of the RSS and the BJP. His debate programmes often show him treating anyone opposed to the RSS ideologies with disdain. In the two shows, where Khera and Chaturvedi took part, he was once again sounding disrespectful and insulting to the Congress representatives.
On the show with Khera, he even ordered muting the Congress representative twice in the programme.
Sardana was with the Zee News before he was hired by Aaj Tak. Among the channels already boycotted by the Congress are Times Now, Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV and Zee TV.