Who funded Arnab Goswami’s communal tirade over Palghar lynching?
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Who funded Arnab Goswami’s communal tirade over Palghar lynching?

As the Republic Bharat anchor accused Congress chief Sonia Gandhi of getting Hindu sadhus murdered in Palghar, Renault Triber, Paytm, Amul, and a firm run by a ‘philanthropist tycoon’ ran ads on the show.

By Manisha Pande

Published on :

Sigh. Before we could recover from Arnab Goswami’s tirade against the migrant workers who gathered in Bandra last week — he actually suggested the protesting workers were all paid actors — we were struck with his latest offering on the tragic Palghar incident where two sadhus and their driver were lynched.

Given the facts of the case, one would expect sombre TV debates on the devastating role of social media rumours in fuelling mob violence or the inability of the Maharashtra police in controlling the mob. Better yet, one could demand swift justice in all cases of lynching so as to set an example.

Not if you’re Goswami for whom even a crime as gruesome as this is just another excuse to play the role of the establishment rottweiler. On Republic Bharat, on Tuesday night, you could almost hear the voices in Goswami’s head: “Sic’ em boy, here’s your chance to bite off Lutyens’ Lobby, Liberals, Opposition, all of them in one go.”.

Goswami began his show berating everyone for being silent on the murder of Hindus. Never mind that he himself was three days late in picking up the story on primetime. The lynching occured on April 16, and he first woke up to it on April 20 with a debate on Republic TV (Who tried to downplay lynching?).

The next day, he did a show on Republic Bharat, where he hosts a debate in Hindi called Poochta Hai Bharat, or India is Asking. It’s the same shouting-match format with multiple windows, with Goswami anchoring as a coked-up version of himself.

He kicks off the show thus: “Do santon ki KHULLE AAM hatya...jis desh ki 80 partishit se zyaada aabaadi HINDU HAI, SANATANI HAI, kya wahan HINDU HONA ek apraadh ho gaya hai? ARREY mere desh ko yeh manzoor nahin hai. AUR YEH MERA DESH HAI!!!!

Roughly translated, Goswami screams: Two saints have been murdered in broad daylight...in a country where 80 percent of the people are Hindu and follow the Sanatan Dharam, it has become a crime to be Hindu. I don’t accept this in my country and this is my country. “Would there be silence if a Maulvi or Padri was murdered?!?” he asked.

Then he trains his guns on Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi: “Yeh Sonia-Sena wali sarkar ne chaar din tak is desh se kyun chupaya?” Why did the Sonia-Sena government hide this crime from India for four days? he demanded to know.

It doesn’t end there. Goswami then launches into what would be a bizarre line of attack for the staunchest of Sonia Gandhi’s critics: “Italy waali Sonia Gandhi...aaj woh chup hain, man hi man main mujhe lagta hai woh kush hai...woh khush hai ki santon ko maara gaya, jahan pe unki sarkar hai. Report bhejegi woh...woh Italy main report bhejegi...main bol raha hun...jahan pe main ne sarkar bana li, wahan pe Hindu santon ko main marwa rahi hun. Aur wahan se waah waahi milegi usko…’waah beta waah, bahut accha kiya Sonia Gandhi Antonia Maino’.”

In case you missed it or couldn’t believe your ears, Goswami accuses Sonia Gandhi of getting the sadhus killed and sending reports to Italy about how she has managed to bump off Hindus in states where she governs. Not only this, according to Goswami, she is congratulated for her work by people in Italy.

We’d like to ask the Consulate General of Italy in India how it feels about India’s noisiest newsman accusing their countrymen of masterminding attacks against Hindus. But the nationalist in us would like to spare India the embarrassment after the UAE fiasco.

There’s obviously no proof to back up these accusations Goswami made on his show. From what we know so far, the identity of the men in saffron was not a trigger in this crime. The trigger was incessant social media rumours about kidnappers and bandits on the prowl; just two days earlier, on April 14, a group of doctors was attacked and held hostage in the adjoining area. "The doctors who were mistaken for thieves were initially stoned at and later tied up,” notes a report in Mumbai Mirror.

Questions should be asked about why the administration was unable to stop a second attack on April 16, and pressure should be built on the state government to ensure swift punishment. But Goswami does none of this. Instead, by giving the lynching a communal colour, he is guilty of trying to spark a second round of violence by stoking fear of Hindus being in peril in their own homeland.

Kya Hinudon ko is desh ka sabse kamzor kaum maan liya gaya hai...kisi logon ne aaj socha hai ki Hindu kaum sabse kamzor kaum hai. Hindu kaum sabse kamzor kaum nahin hai. Aap ne dhairya dekha hai, taakat bhi aap samajh lijiye.”

Roughly translated, he says, “Hindus are not the weakest community, we are not weak. You’ve seen our patience, but you should understand our strength.” Replace the words Hindus with Muslims and imagine for a second one of the Owaisi brothers saying something like this, and think of the primetime outrage that it would have caused for weeks on end. Goswami would have certainly called for their arrest.

Know the brands

Goswami’s antics have predictably sparked yet another cycle of outrage with Twitter handles demanding his arrest and declaring their undying support. Congress party workers have filed FIRs across states turning the whole thing into a comical photo-op.

Late last night, Goswami said he had been attacked by Youth Congress goons. He said he would file a police complaint: “Sonia Gandhi, bring it on,” he declared. Two people were arrested in connection with the incident this morning.

But what of Goswami’s lies and incitement? Rest assured, this attack will allow him to brazen out this latest episode of fakery just like he did when his network was called out for spreading fake news about the Jamia shooting, communalising the Bandra migrant protest, bullying a Muslim panelist to prove his patriotism by chanting “Bharat Mata ki Jai” (Hail Mother India)...the list is endless.

So long as there are big brands willing to fuel this nightly cocktail of hate and misinformation, don’t expect him to recoil in guilt or shame.

It is important to note that even as powerful a TV anchor as Fox News’ Tucker Carlson lost close to 70 advertisers for saying there was no problem of white supremacy in the United States and that it was a “hoax” proliferated by the media after mass shootings. One such shooting had left 22 people dead in Texas, and the gunman had reportedly posted a white supremacist manifesto online.

Unlike Goswami returning back to primetime last night with zero remorse and more bluster, Fox News sent Carlson on a vacation. Brands like HelloFresh, Nestle, SteinMart, Calm, and SoFi pulled out.

In India, we are far from brands showing such moral scruples.

As Goswami screeched on air, brands such as Renault Triber, Amul and Paytm happily declared that they were “powering” this conspiracy-laden show. Renault Triber, a French multinational automobile manufacturer, is in fact the prime sponsor. Ironically, the company’s India arm informs us that as part of its corporate social responsibility, it’s committed to “bringing people together”. Other sponsors include steel company Goel TMT and Century Ply.

The brand that kept popping up through Goswami’s Republic Bharat offering is EbixCash, a supplier of on-demand software and e-commerce services.

Ebix recently made news for acquiring online travel portal Yatra.com and partnered with Republic TV to build a brand-integrated news studio. The founder of the company, Robin Raina, announced the company’s partnership with Republic Media Network in October 2019 as “the next big thing in the world of brand-media collaborations”. He called the partnership a vehicle to take forward “our like-minded ideologies”.

An article in Money Control describes him thus: “A business tycoon, philanthropist, socialite and a fitness enthusiast, Raina never shies away from speaking his mind”. We are also told that he wants “to make charity look cool”.

The PR spiel you find in such pieces on “brand philosophy” and “corporate social responsibility” runs in stark contrast to what EbixCash has decided to power – a news show that spreads misinformation and hate, which can have very real consequences in a country that’s witnessing a religious divide even amid a pandemic. It’s possible that Raina doesn’t watch the drivel that his brand promotes but if he reads this piece and does nothing about it, we can be sure of where the tycoon-cum-philanthropist’s allegiances lie.

Newslaundry
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