Even as India’s most controversial journalist Arnab Goswami is all set to launch his new news venture, Republic TV, the former editor-in-chief of Times Now has asked his journalist colleagues across India to “declare their independence from media owners and media organisations.”
“Journalists should refuse to work for these organisations”, Goswami declares in an interview published in http://www.mansworldindia.com/, adding, “We have declared our independence, and they should join us.”
Indicating reasons for leaving Times Now, he says, “I feel truly sad when some film director calls up a media proprietor and says, ‘Why is this channel asking questions about me, and about why Pakistani artists are acting in my film?’ and the media proprietor gets scared. That’s very unfortunate.”
Calling Republic TV “a pro-people organisation” that would convey the “spirit of nationalism”, he says, his venture would be “the first journalist-owned, journalist-run, journalist-managed news
organisation”, which is “fiercely independent.” Goswami's most talked-about punchline as Times Now anchor for News Hour was "the nation wants to know."
A well-known tycoon, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, a member of the Rajya Sabha, vice-chairman of the NDA in Kerala and considered the top face of the BJP in the state, is reported to be one of the largest investors and a director in journalist Arnab Goswami’s media venture.
Taking on a section of journalists as belonging to what he calls Lutyens’ Delhi, says Goswami, they are the “who believe that they’re the custodians of Indian journalism… They eat together, meet together, socialise together. And, slowly, unknowingly, or maybe knowingly, over the course of the last 30-40 years, they have become co-opted by the political class.”
Pointing towards “stories about ill-gotten wealth” with “editors having massive farmhouses worth hundreds of crores in Chhatarpur”, Goswami says, “You cannot make that kind of money through an honest journalist’s income.”
“The Nira Radia tapes episode showed that there was a direct link between some journalists who were acting as mediators for corporate houses and politicians”, he adds.
Claiming that “a section of the Lutyens’ media has a bias against India”, Goswami says, without naming anyone, “There are some people who don’t even have Indian passports. They are Indian in ethnicity, but have chosen to be American citizens. They are running digital media companies.”
He adds, “There is an American citizen running a digital news site in India, inciting students in Jawaharlal Nehru University, speaking openly for Maoists, and questioning Republic”, warning, he would “fight these people till my last breath now.”
Also coming down heavily on those who call themselves “left-liberal”, both journalists and non-journalists, Goswami says, they live “a very privileged life”, operating out of “a five-kilometre zone that is centred in Chanakyapuri… They live in big houses in Vasant Vihar; they have super luxury lifestyles, largely subsidised by previous governments. The change in government has taken away these privileges.”
“To be a true liberal is to do stories and reporting that talk about the pain of the people of this country”, says Goswami, adding, they shouldn’t be sitting in “India International Centre and do ooh-la-la champagne parties and talk about how India and Pakistan should come together.”
“To be a true liberal is to ask why people in India still don’t get enough to eat; why Muslim women can be divorced on WhatsApp with triple talaq; why is someone not allowed to enter temples”, he says, adding, “To be a true liberal is to ask questions of the corrupt.”
“Is it liberal to denigrate Bhagat Singh and call him a terrorist?”, he asks, adding, “There’s a book on Indian history curated by three people, including Bipan Chandra and Mridula Mukherjee, which uses the word ‘terrorist’ to describe Bhagat Singh… Bhagat Singh was described as a terrorist because the Gandhi family did not want the attention to go away from Jawaharlal Nehru.”
Also criticizing those who returned national-level awards after the lynching of Akhlaq Khan in Uttar Pradesh, Goswami wonders, why “the award wapsi gang … did not return the awards when 1984 happened, when Sikhs were butchered”, adding “Suddenly they have developed their conscience after Narendra Modi comes into power.”