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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Were Arnab Goswami’s chats deliberately leaked to malign and trap him?

Republic TV CEO Arnab Goswami and the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government as well as Mumbai police have been at loggerhead in recent times with Mumbai police having leaked Arnab’s chat with Ex-BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta. With Senior Congress leader and former Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan admitting that the Mumbai police leaked Arnab’s chat transcripts that have led to all kinds of wild conspiracy theories, the question that needs to be asked is whether this leaking of chat transcripts was a deliberate attempt to discredit Arnab and malign his image?

A major controversy has now erupted over the leaks and specifically over this message from Arnab:

“Bigger than a normal airstrike. And on the same time something major on Kashmir. On Pakistan, the government is confident of striking in a way that people will be elated. Exact words used.”

Although this sentence itself is quite vague, the opposition has already decided that this is about the Balakot airstrikes and that Arnab knew about it in advance. Congress leaders including Prithviraj Chavan, Shashi Tharoor, P Chidambaram, and several others have demanded answers from PM Modi, HM Shah, and DM Rajnath Singh in the matter along with asking for a parliamentary committee probe on Arnab Goswami.

Part of the secular MVA coalition partner Shiv Sena has also called for a probe on Arnab Goswami. Congress MP Manish Tewari wanted to know if national security was milked for electoral purposes. Of course, Pakistan has used this ‘to prove’ that Pulwama was a Bharatiya operation.

There are a few things to take note of here. First and foremost is the fact that the private chat transcripts between Arnab and Dasgupta made their way to the internet out of the blue (now we know that the Mumbai police leaked it deliberately). It is clear from the chat that the point of discussion is the aftermath of Pulwama terror strikes by Pakistan-sponsored terrorists.

PM Modi had himself made it clear in February 2019 that the perpetrators of the Pulwama strike would be punished. Therefore, there is nothing alarming in Arnab’s chat and possibly sync’s with the national mood prevalent at the time which expected the Modi government to avenge the death of innocent Bharatiya Army Jawans.

Around 500-page chat transcript that has been leaked online raises suspicion because it talks about Smriti Irani’s appointment as the next I&B Minister stating that Arnab knew of the appointment in advance while the time stamp of the chat indicates that the message was exchanged after the PMO had already announced Irani as the next I&B Minister.

Considering that there is hardly anything alarming or conspiratorial in the leaked chats, the intent here seems to be to somehow malign Arnab Goswami and probably make him toe the line of the MVA government and Mumbai police. It looks like the Mumbai police just wanted to hand ammunition against Arnab to both his rivals and opposition parties who have been baying for his blood for some time now.

Also, one must take into account the fact that the Mumbai police has supposedly been torturing witnesses to testify against Arnab and incriminate him in the fake TRP scandal, this chat leak surely looks like part of the plan to browbeat Arnab into submission. Whether or not Arnab would give in is an altogether different matter but that the police force of a government already looking for a personal vendetta against Arnab would purposely make public his private messages definitely raises several questions.

As OpIndia put it:

“Furthermore, the leaked chats also reveal that Arnab Goswami did not know anything at all about the inner functioning of the government apart from ordinary politically informed citizens. For all their allegations of ‘Godi Media’, the only evidence they could provide for it was that he told the former BARC CEO that India will retaliate strongly to the Pulwama terror attack. Even Imran Khan could have provided this information given the numerous phony calls for peace he made.”

(Featured Image Source: Indian Express)

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