Holi, Thatcher and ‘insult to Gandhi’: Gaurav Bhatia’s tirade against the BBC

The BJP spokesperson targeted the British broadcaster and the opposition amid the tax raids.

WrittenBy:Sumedha Mittal
Date:
Article image
  • Share this article on whatsapp

As a war of words ensued between the BJP and opposition over the income tax raids on BBC, allegations flew thick and fast. The Congress accused the Narendra Modi government of going after the BBC when the opposition was demanding a JPC probe into the Adani row, while the BJP said the grand old party itself had banned the British broadcaster during Indira Gandhi’s tenure. 

Addressing the media in Delhi, BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia said BBC stood for “Bhrasht Bakwaas Corporation”, or corrupt nonsensical corporation. Incidentally, BJP-friendly anchors like Arnab Goswami on Republic TV have been referring to the BBC as the Boring Broadcasting Corporation for a while now. Bhatia listed several examples to say that the British broadcaster has a “tainted and black history of working with malice against India”. Let’s take a look.

Holi ‘filthy’

Bhatia said that the BBC called Holi a filthy festival “without being aware of India’s culture and diversity”.

This grouse seems to go back to 2012. Hindutva leaning websites such as Hindupad had stated that the BBC had hurt Hindus by calling Holi a “filthy” festival. It said the BBC website had posted a short video under its “week’s weird videos” section on “Newsbeat’s odd box” – showing youngsters playing holi in Utah in US – and titled the segment as “filthy festival”. It claimed that Rajan Zed, president of Universal Society of Hinduism, had asked BBC Director-General Mark Thompson and Trustees Chairman Lord Barnes to apologise. 

Another Hindutva-leaning website OpIndia, in an article published last year, had also accused the BBC of trying to “Islamise” Holi after the BBC Hindi website tweeted couplets about the festival by Urdu Sufi poets. 

subscription-appeal-image

Support Independent Media

The media must be free and fair, uninfluenced by corporate or state interests. That's why you, the public, need to pay to keep news free.

Contribute
imageby :
imageby :

Newslaundry could not verify the authenticity of the video the Hindupad referred to. However, more recently, there were several pieces on the BBC website appreciating the festival of colours.

imageby :

The Margaret Thatcher misattribution

The BJP spokesperson said, “BBC should definitely also pay heed to the word’s of UK’s longest serving Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. She had called the BBC the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation.” 

It was actually Peter Bruinvels, a UK MP and leader of the conservative party, who had criticised the media outlet with this acronym over its coverage of the Falklands War. 

Gandhi insult

Bhatia also accused the media outlet of insulting Mahatma Gandhi. “BBC wishes to operate in India yet refuses to respect the icons of the country. The BBC very categorically in a programme and its presenter have the tenacity to say that Mahatma Gandhi has failed in its attempt to liberate India in 1946.” 

This seems to be careful wordplay about what could otherwise be a clinical report. India did not get Independence from British rule until 1947. It could be as much of a reflection of an editorial view as the BBC report calling Gandhi a “great soul” or “Mahatma” after his death. Meanwhile, when it comes to insulting the Mahatma, Bhatia may want to have a word or two with his party colleague from Madhya Pradesh who can’t stop fawning over Gandhi’s killer.

The tax raids

The income tax raids continue at the BBC’s offices in Delhi and Mumbai. This comes amid a controversy over the BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The Income Tax Authorities are currently at the BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai and we are fully cooperating. We hope to have this situation resolved as soon as possible,” the BBC’s press office tweeted.

Also see
article imageThe Modi documentary must be watched, but did we need colonial overlords to tell this story?
article imageWhy Indians should not cite foreign press to validate their views

You may also like