The Nobel prize panel member, Asle Toje, quoted in reports calls it a ‘fake’ claim.
Words of praise for prime minister Narendra Modi by the Nobel Prize Committee deputy leader have been widely reported as his acknowledgement that the Indian prime minister was the “biggest contender for Nobel Peace Prize”.
Asle Toje, who is on a visit to India, has called out the “fake” quote. “It’s fake. Let’s not give it energy or oxygen. I categorically deny that I said anything resembling” the same, he said.
Most of these reports followed a Times Now interview, in which Toje lauded PM Modi for his stand on the Russia-Ukraine war and said such a position is very important coming from a “powerful country like India”. In a video put up by Times Now, its reporter can be heard asking: “How do you rate our leader Modi Ji in making peace all over the world?” Toje responds saying, “I haven’t noticed peace all over the world…but I have noticed that PM Modi has intervened on a positive note in the Ukraine crisis warning Russia against using nuclear weapons and I am obviously very happy to see that. I think every country in the world should give this message and it is all the more important when it comes from a powerful country like India.”
Toje also said, “Modi has been the Prime Minister for some years now and is one of the elder statesmen of this world. I think that credibility, and it is interesting to see that India has in record time gone from being a developing country to becoming one of the primary economies of this world. It is taken more seriously and when India speaks, it tends to be with a friendly voice and without threats.” He made similar remarks while interacting with other media outlets such as ANI.
This was seemingly enough for Times Now to claim that Modi was the “biggest contender for the Nobel Peace Prize” even though Toje has said no such thing in the entire interaction.
Times Now editor Rahul Shivshankar tweeted the false quote about Modi being the “biggest contender” for the award on Thursday, but he was asked by Nayan Jyoti Parasara, a media professional, if Toje’s remarks were made in an “individual capacity”.
He then said that “he doesn't speak for the panel”. “He has made this clear saying he can't speculate on who is going to win etc. He rates the PM on his diplomacy and his peacemaking. But having said that his opinion counts as much as any credible assesor of world affairs. Take it or leave it,” Shivshankar tweeted.
However, none of these media outlets could verify that members of the Nobel panel cannot publicly declare either the nominees or their prospects.