British MP slams BBC on Anti-Modi Focus Of Election Coverage

published on May 24, 2014

With the continuous anti Hindu diatribe lead by the Western media  covering the Indian elections has once again brought into the open the Hinduphobia prevalent in the West recycling misinformation and promoting well known Hinduphobes  as ‘experts’ on India..

Recently BBCs Newsnight programme  well known Hinduphobe William Dalrymple along with a new sidekick  Anish Kapoor who went on a anti Modi rant including calling him a mass murderer  went to its extremes was brought to the attention of British MP Priti Patel who wrote a strong letter condemning the attacks on Modi to the head of the BBC Lord Tony Hall  : Letter produced below

Lord Tony Hall
British Broadcasting  Corporation
Broadcasting  House
2-22 Portland  Place
Fitzrovia London WlA  lAA

  19 May 2014

Our ref: WI7283

Dear Lord Hall

Re: BBC Newsnight,

16 May 2014, coverage  and  reporting of the Indian  General  Election. In my capacity  as the Prime  Minister’s  UK Indian  Diaspora  Champion,  and  following recent engagement   with  leaders  of Britain’s  Indian  community,  I have received  a number of complaints  about  the coverage  about  the Indian  General  Election on BBC Newsnight   on 16 May 2014. Many  in the British Indian  community,  particularly those of Gujarati  origin,were offended  by the reporting about  Prime  Minister-elect   Narendra Modi. Instead  of focusing  on the policies and  the vision  that the new Government   in India  is now likely to implement, the programme focused  exclusively  on Modi and  his character. From  the beginning  of the broadcast,  Modi was portrayed by the presenter, Yalda Hakim, as a “controversial  figure.”  In the opening introduction,  she stated:  ”What  can India and the world  expect from such a controversial   figure.”  Modi’s  political  opponents  have portrayed him as being  ’controversial’, so by using  this reference,  the BBC, who should  be impartial, is giving  acceptance  to the political  position  of Modi’s  opponents   rather  than reporting  objectively.  The term ‘controversial’  could  be used  to describe  a large number of politicians,  which  is why  many  people  in Britain’s  Indian  community   believe  its use purely  in relation  to Modi in the news item was unbalanced.

Moreover,  the presenter  also stated,  in relation  to Modi, that “To some he has blood  on his hands”  (approximately 1 minute 20 seconds  in) and  that  ”Modi  is India’s  most divisive politician”  (lm  30s). These are subjective  statements   that provide  an misleading perspective  of Modi  while providing viewers  with misinformation.  Modi secured  the largest  democratic   mandate in world  history  in a peaceful  and  professional   manner, with his Party  winning  a majority  of votes  throughout India  and able to form a Government. This was a point  that was not conveyed  by the presenter.

Later in the broadcast, at approximately   10m, the presenter stated  that: “Modi  is one of India’s  most divisive  politicians,  his involvement   in the 2002 Gujarat  riots has been especially  controversial.”   However,  she did not give further  details  about  these events  and the investigations   and inquiries  which  took place and  cleared  Modi.  Nor were  the causes of the riots mentioned.   Moreover,  although the deaths  of Muslims  in the riots  were referred  to, at no point  were  the deaths  of Hindus  referred  to, despite  the fact that these were reported on the BBC website  in 2005

(http:/  /       asia/ 4536199.strn). Therefore,  the impression give to the viewer  is that  Muslims  were the only community   adversely  affected  by the riots.  Coupled  with  the frequent  references  to Modi and  the BJP being  Hindu  nationalists, the manner  of reported created  an inaccurate  representation of the riots and portrayed the insinuation   made  by Modi’s  political  opponents   that he was,  in some way,  involved  in the riots. The broadcast  also featured  comment  from the artist  Anish Kapoor,  who was critical of Modi. The decision  to interview   Kapoor  and effectively  portray  him as an expert  on Indian politics is bizarre.  Kapoor  has spent  the last 40 years  living  in the UK and is an artist.  He has no record  as an expert  on politics or commentator   on Indian  affairs.  Moreover,  the presenter  did not offer sufficient  or adequate challenge  to the assumptions   he made  about the elections  and comments   he made  about  Modi.  Kapoor  stated  in the interview  in a clip that was also used  in the introduction   to the programme   that “India’s  dreamed itself a dream  with  a mass murderer as its main character.”  Although  the presenter  asked  him what  he meant  by mass murder, she did not challenge  him to provide evidence  to support his claim. Claiming  that someone  who  is a democratically   elected  politician  is a “mass murderer”  is an extremely  serious  allegation  and  unless  such a claim  is substantiated with meaningful   evidence,  the BBC should  not be broadcasting   this slur.

Furthermore,   when  explaining  what  he meant  by the phrase  ”mass  murderer”,  Kapoor stated  that India  is “on  the edge  of a sectarian,  partisan,  violent  approach to all kinds  of issues.”  (approx  12m). The presenter  did not challenge  him over  this statement either. Most mainstream commentators   on Indian  politics would  not concur  with  Kapoor’s  view, which  is why  the presenter should  have  challenged   him. In addition,  Kapoor  also stated that in India  there is growth  at the cost of women,  the poor and  Muslims  (approx  12m 30s). The interview  then stopped and  Kapoor  was not challenged   on this allegation  either.

 In addition,  during  the course  of the interview,  Kapoor  referred  to the elections  and  Indian politics as “supposedly   democratic.”  (approx  lOm 30s). This implies  that the elections  in India were not in some way free and  fair. Given  that  there have  been no serious allegations  of malpractice  and  that the elections  involved  over 550 million  people  casting their vote, it is concerning   to see that the presenter  did  not challenge  Kapoor  on this claim.

Aside from the complete  lack of balance  and challenge  by the presenter in relation  to the Kapoor  interview,  the focus on Modi himself  detracted  attention away  from the real election issues. These elections  represent the largest  democratic   exercise  in human  history that saw the highest  voter  turnout  in India’s  historv.  Indians  were  voting  in the election  on economic  and social issues, voting  on India’s  economy,  its trading  aspirations   and  it vision  for its place in the world.  Newsnight’ s coverage  could  also have  been more  about breaking  through voter  apathy  and  mobilising  first time voters  to exercise  their right to vote. It was indeed  these  new voters  and  technology  that helped  communicate   political messages  that helped  to shape  the outcome  of this historic  General  Election.

As a result  of this programme,   the image  of India  has been tarnished unfairly  and  the success of the elections,  the high  turnout  and  the debates  about  the policies  that were at the heart  of the General  Election  have been ignored.

On behalf of all those offended  in Britain’s  Indian  community   by the Newsnight coverage, I trust  you will undertake a full investigation   into this programme   and  I look forward  to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Priti Patel  MP  (WITHAM)

The Prime  Minister’s UK Indian Diaspora Champion
E-mail: [email protected]

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