K Annamalai was annoyed when the journalist asked if he’d leave the BJP if he were no longer state president.
The Network of Women in Media, India, issued a statement today condemning BJP Tamil Nadu president K Annamalai for making “disparaging remarks” to a woman journalist.
“These remarks directed at a woman journalist working in a Tamil television channel are patronising and disrespectful,” the statement said. “It constitutes a classic case of mansplaining. It will not be excessive to term his behaviour as bullying and bordering on harassment...”
On October 1, the former IPS officer had addressed a press conference in Coimbatore when a woman journalist asked if he’d remain in the BJP if he was no longer state president. This was days after the AIADMK ended its alliance with the BJP, and Annamalai was scheduled to go Delhi to meet BJP top brass.
As reported by The News Minute, Annamalai gestured for the journalist to stand next to him while saying, “Come here, sister, come and talk from here. Let the people of Tamil Nadu see who is asking such questions.”
He then said, “Sister, I want you to grow in this field. You should come up to a high position, which needs a bit of ethics. It needs professional grounding...The questions should follow a norm. My anger comes from wanting all of you to grow in the field. You shouldn’t hop from one channel to another and then become a nobody at 40 years old. You should become an editor in chief in Delhi...Let the eight crore people see who this intelligent person is, asking questions like this.”
Soon after, the Coimbatore Press Club condemned his statements. President AR Babu said Annamalai should “learn the ethics of being a leader” before “trying to preach journalism ethics”.
The NWMI reminded Annamalai that “asking questions, including uncomfortable ones, is part of the job description of journalists” and that the question asked on October 1 was “a reasonable question in the context of recent developments in the state”.
“NWMI urges him to reconsider his stance towards journalists and desist from making such condescending and derogatory comments in the future. We also urge the national leadership of the BJP to take note of Mr Annamalai’s consistently aggressive behaviour towards journalists and advise him to adopt a more professional outlook during his press conferences,” the statement said.
Last year, the state BJP chief had compared journalists to “monkeys” and was condemned by press bodies. Journalists in Chennai had also staged a protest after Annamalai suggested one of them was “bribed” by the DMK to ask him questions.