On Tuesday (June 29, 2021), international news agency Reuters had published a report titled “After COVID surge, some signs of internal dissent against India’s Modi” suggesting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is facing dissent and dissatisfaction within his own party BJP due to Covid-19 cases.
The report insinuated that even ordinary workers in the BJP were dissatisfied with the central government’s handling of Covid-19, and this could impact the party’s prospects in the coming state assembly elections as well as the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
The report heavily relied upon the testimony of Govind Pasi, a 45 years old BJP karyakarta (worker) from Balai village in Uttar Pradesh, who was paraded as someone unhappy with the party and the leadership. His statements were padded up with the statement of an ‘anonymous’ leader of the BJP to suggest that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was facing internal dissent.
However, OpIndia has accessed video testimony of Govind Pasi, who has rubbished the report by Reuters, and has completely denied that he is angry with the Prime Minister over the Covid-19 situation.
“My loyalty towards the party is intact. I am loyal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath”, Pasi told a couple of volunteers who talked to him, and who later shared his testimony with OpIndia.
Pasi suggested that the Reuters journalists had promised him some sort of ‘benefits’ and ‘help’ in lieu of his statements, which were twisted to show him as a dissident against the Prime Minister. He then revealed that the journalists or representatives of Reuters were not receiving his phone calls since they published his interview.
“They exaggerated and twisted my words and I have no idea what they wrote after I spoke to them”, Pasi said. Speaking to volunteers, Pasi also said, “They told me that I will get something if I give my statements. I did not know how they will twist my words. I even called one Sahil but they never answered my call. I wanted to ask them to send the story on WhatsApp, but they never did”.
In the video, Pasi says that his anger was with the local people and not with the leadership of the BJP. In fact, he is still very much loyal to the party. He indicates that any insinuation to the contrary was a concoction by Reuters.
This is not really the first time that the media has created a controversy out of thin air to insinuate that BJP was not helping its own workers and leaders. Not too long ago, ThePrint had invented a story where the portal tried to undermine the Prime Minister. In that story, ThePrint had claimed that the PM or the BJP did not help an RSS worker despite tweets appealing for the same, only to be busted by Twitter users. The family of the deceased had also rejected the claims by ThePrint, saying that they were misused by the media.
The western media’s coverage of India’s resurgent COVID-19 outbreak was particularly stark, with the media outlets, including Reuters, falling over themselves to paint a gloomy picture of the devastation wreaked by the pandemic and associating it with burning funeral pyres.
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the western media’s unhealthy fetish of linking India’s COVID-19 outbreak with funeral pyres. Several media organisations, be it The Washington Post, Reuters or BBC, posted pictures of funeral pyres from various places in India to highlight the severity of the pandemic. One of the Washington Post journalists even described a cremation ground’s vertical shot as “stunning”.
Where there are deaths, there are obviously going to be funeral pyres. When the pandemic took its devastating toll on the US, Italy, Brazil and other western countries, there were hardly any media organisations that symbolised the outbreak with the images of burial grounds.
However, this indignity of linking the COVID-19 outbreak with funeral pyres was reserved only for Indians, and it smacked off the west’s envy of India, which was remarkably successful in staving off the initial COVID-19 outbreak when the developed and richer countries of the world were finding it incredibly difficult to control it.
This current report by Reuters only seems to be an extension of the hatred the western media harbours for India and its ruling government. It is unsurprising that for Reuters, the very media that proudly displayed its glee over funeral pyres in India, manipulating and lying to innocent citizens to misquote them in a bid to tarnish the Prime Minister is all a part of the ‘honest journalism’ that they claim to practice.