This is a story in several acts.
The first involves a senior BJP leader versus the Times of India; the second is a Hindu staffer versus TOI and the BJP leader; and the third is The Hindu Group's chairperson versus the Hindu staffer.
On December 30, a high-level committee under home minister Amit Shah of additional central assistance to six states "which were affected by floods, landslides and cyclones during 2021". These funds were allocated under the National Disaster Response Force.
The states are Assam, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.
On January 2, the Times of India that Tamil Nadu had not figured in the list despite chief minister MK Stalin "sending several memoranda seeking assistance" after the floods in the state. The piece was filed by TOI's senior assistant editor Julie Mariappan.
Enter K Annamalai, the state president of the BJP in Tamil Nadu. He accused Mariappan of "perennial bias towards BJP Tamil Nadu" that "manifested" as a "half-baked" and "agenda-driven" report in the newspaper.
Sincerely expect @timesofindia to do better research on issues before reporting!— K.Annamalai (@annamalai_k) January 2, 2022
This reporterâs perennial bias towards BJP Tamil Nadu over the last many months in various articles, is being manifested again as a half baked & agenda driven article in a esteemed paper like TOI. pic.twitter.com/IWfAQUHQUH
His proof of this bias was to ignore the fact that the news report was on the December 31 announcement, and instead point out that Tamil Nadu had received funds before.
Annamalai's targeting of Mariappan was criticised by several journalists. When journalist Shabbir Ahmed called out Annamalai's "intimidation tactics", the BJP president accused Ahmed too of a "visceral hatred for our Hon PM & BJP TN".
Some journalists in T.N including you have a visceral hatred for our Hon PM & BJP TN over the years.When your article is neutral & unbiased, we will respect and honour your work— K.Annamalai (@annamalai_k) January 2, 2022
When you bring your personal prejudice into your Instituions, Iâll be doing this
We will see sir ð https://t.co/pERIAZClx3
TOI Chennai's resident editor Arun Ram then tweeted about how the report had "received much choreographed criticism" from the BJP Tamil Nadu.
Confused yet? There's more.
The Times of India's Chennai edition today carried two pieces on this "row": the first by DMK spokesperson Manuraj Shunmugasundaram and the second by Annamalai.
Annamalai also posted about his piece .
Which is when RK Radhakrishnan, associate editor of Frontline, which is part of The Hindu Group, insinuated that the piece had come out after Annamalai "singled out a reporter...for her religion".
"Annamalai has scored an unqualified victory," tweeted Radhakrishnan.
Corrected for grammar: Merely two days after the #Tamilnadu #BJP president singles out a reporter from an English newspaper for her religion, the newspaper buckles, and invites him to write! #Annamalai has scored an unqualified victory. Congratulations! https://t.co/HqQn0KVWUp— RadhakrishnanRK (@RKRadhakrishn) January 4, 2022
When a Twitter user complained that Radhakrishnan was spreading "fake news", The Hindu Group Publishing's chairperson (also former editor of the newspaper) Malini Parthasarathy chastised Radhakrishnan for his "unwarranted" and "gratuitous" comment, saying he had "no business to write this comment against Shri Annamalai K or TOI Chennai".
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