Ranjona Banerji: It’s been Arnab Goswami’s week

31 Jan,2020

By Ranjona Banerji


To write about Arnab Goswami, who is not even a journalist but was one once. Sigh. Journalists being in the news is usually for the wrong reasons. The many who lose their lives in conflict or because they have taken on a draconian regime and paid a terrible price. And occasionally, in the news for good things: they have written a book or won a prestigious award. In the world of television journalism, the star quality and reachability of TV anchors is vital because you let them into your bedrooms, and you think you know them. And this makes them in the news all the time, it makes them “the news”.

So, Arnab Goswami. In the news for all the wrong reasons. For himself as an anchor and his personal toxic brand of hate-mongering masquerading as journalism and then for the partisan, invented non-journalism that goes on in the TV channel that he runs. It’s been his week!

First, he was approached by popular stand-up comic Kunal Kumra on a flight. Kamra tried to do to him what Goswami does to panellists on his show: heckle them into responding. What Kamra did not do is try to outshout Goswami. Largely that is because Goswami, according to reports, after one small verbal spat, stayed silent. Kamra was also not as aggressive as Goswami because that is a special talent.

Kamra also became a hero of sorts because the Government of India came down on him like a ton of bricks, thanks it appears to civil aviation minister Hardeep Puri. The insult and harassment Goswami suffered had to be avenged! Airline after airline suspended Kamra’s flying rights, in violation of every law that there is on the matter. Forget Kamra. Ask yourself why the Government of India would go to such lengths to avenge a “wrong” done to a journalist. Unless that “journalist” was one of them.

And yes, we do know that Goswami is one of them. The TV channel he started is a not just a mouthpiece for the Government/BJP/RSS, it also helps them to keep alive their agenda to demonise Muslims and other minorities, to keep their viewers in a state of anger when it comes to Pakistan and the channel works to defend the BJP in any possible way by ensuring the focus is on the past and on other political parties.

January 30 is observed as Martyrs Day in India because on that day, in 1948, the militant Hindu Nathuram Godse, inspired by Hindutva, assassinated Mahatma Gandhi. On that day, in Delhi, a young man identified as Gopal Sharma walked up to anti-CAA protests by students at Jamia Milia University, fired his gun and hit a student in the arm, shouted threats, brandishing his weapon as the Delhi police, the media, the students and bystanders watched.


As news broke, there was chaos and speculation. But our BJP-controlled media houses were ready with information. ANI, known as a pro-government news agency – let’s not forget it was the only news agency invited to the fraudulent early morning swearing-in ceremony of BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis after the recent Maharashtra election results – produced a CBSE marksheet to prove the shooter was a minor. The shooter is from Jewar in Uttar Pradesh. The name was blanked out so who knows whose marksheet that actually is.

Republic TV went further. It first claimed the shooter was a student of Jamia. It then “corrected” that and blamed anti-CAA protestors for creating this situation by “provoking” the shooter. Anti-CAA protestors are fighting for their identity, their rights, their citizenship, their Constitution, all of which is legal as long as India remains a democracy. In all the protests which have been going on since December, it is protestors who have been killed and beaten up, largely at the hands of the police and of RSS-associated goons.

Republic TV knows this. Republic TV also knows that it is BJP ministers and party members who have asked openly for people to be killed, implying all protestors are traitors. The most recent who called for death to the protestors are Anurag Thakur, a central minister, and Parvesh Singh, a BJP politician. Shaheen Bagh, where women in Delhi have been holding peaceful protests is the other BJP target, especially of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, because the protestors are women and most importantly, Muslim. Both anathema to the RSS.

Goswami received plenty of support from some journalists for Kamra’s little stunt. But that was the usual false equivalence posturing. Because they know and we know that it has been many years since Goswami was a journalist. He is now a hate-creator and provoker. I can’t walk a fine balancing line for him. He’s too dangerous for that.


Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She is also Consulting Editor, MxMIndia. Her views here are personal



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