Demand grows for banning of ‘habitual abuser’ Sambit Patra from TV, Rajdeep Sardesai apologises


Civil society members and activists have demanded banning of BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra from TV channels after he astonishingly addressed a Congress spokesperson as Rahul Gandhi’s dog.

Taking part in a debate on India Today on Friday night, Patra had launched a tirade against Pawan Khera of the Congress, disparagingly addressing him as Rahul Gandhi’s dog, Pidi. He had said, “Mr Pidi (name of Rahul Gandhi’s dog), you don’t have to shout like this.”

Reacting to Patra addressing him as Rahul’s dog, Khera had tweeted, “When they have no answers, they threaten, abuse and resort to cheap theatrics. They know, there days are numbered.”

Rajdeep Sardesai, who was the presenter of the show on India Today, later apologised for letting down his audience. He wrote, “I apologise to you ma’am and all viewers of my show for the level of language used. As an anchor, I should have done better to control such coarse language.. I lost control over part of the ‘debate’.”

But this did not stop from activists from questioning TV channels’ decision to invite Patra, a serial offender, to take part in debates. Activist Kavita Krishnan wrote, “Avoiding to invite compulsive, habitual abusers like Patra or Swamy is not equivalent to a ‘ban’ on free speech. It protects the free speech and safety of the other guests on the panel. Said so re Swamy’s repeated sexist abuse of me on TV, say so re Patra’s communal & other abuse.”

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan tweeted, “It’s not a question of losing control over the debate @sardesairajdeep. Patra is regularly shouting, abusing, preventing others from speaking. His only agenda is to create hatred against Muslims & religious polarisation. No doubt, that’s his brief. Why call such thuggish louts?”

Former JNU students’ leader Shehla Rashid sought to remind how Patra had repeatedly used insulting terms to address Muslim panellists during TV debates and no anchors ever cared to admonish him for his explicit racism and bigotry. She wrote, “I don’t see why everyone is surprised at Sambit Patra calling Congress spok names. Patra regularly calls Muslims “katmulla”, “Mullah ji”, etc. Why is that normal?”

In June this year, Patra had called AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi as Neo-Jinnah. “In today’s political scenario, I have no hesitation in saying that Mr Owaisi is the neo Jinnah. This tactic of instigating Muslims to break away from mainstream is a dangerous one & he is a repeat offender,” he was quoted by news agency ANI.

Experts feel that Patra unleashing dangerous Hindutva card by unhesitatingly demonstrating his hatred for Muslims is a dangerous ploy to incite India’s Hindus against Muslims in a bid to extract the much-needed electoral mileage for 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Soon after the BJP’s shock defeat in its fiefdom, Kairana, this year, Patra had termed the BJP candidate’s defeat as the loss for Hindus. He had said, “When this will reverberate across India, then everyone will pause and reflect. When word will spread that 32% Muslims could unite, but where were Hindus? Islam won but why did Hindus lose?”

Here are some other notable reactions:

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