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‘Arnabgate’ Explained: From PJ’s Poetry for ‘NM’ to Quid Pro Quo

What is in Arnab Goswami’s alleged chats on WhatsApp and why is this leak significant? 

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Explainers
2 min read

(VIDEO EDITOR: Ashutosh Bharadwaj)

Popular news anchor Arnab Goswami has made it to the headlines, yet again. Ironically, Goswami’s claim-to-fame is the tool that his channel used day after day for grabbing prime time viewership. Yes, the WhatsApp leaks. The Quint's Opinion Editor, Nishtha Gautam explains what the uproar about Republic TV's Chief Editor and co-founder Arnab Goswami's allegedly leaked private WhatsApp chats is all about.

What is ‘Arnabgate’?

Hundreds of pages of leaked WhatsApp conversations, between

  1. Arnab Goswami, chief editor and founder of Republic TV
  2. Partho Dasgupta, Broadcast Audience Research Council’s former CEO,
  3. and other officials

What are these leaked chats about?

1. Mutual interests
2. Arnab Goswami’s alleged closeness to the BJP government
3. Corporate matters

Why are these leaked chats important?

To understand this, let’s go back to October 2020 when BARC filed a complaint through Hansa Research Group, saying that TV news channels manipulated TRP numbers. Arnab Goswami’s Republic channels were also named in the complaint.

In January 2021, the Mumbai Police Crime Branch claimed to have evidence showing collaboration between former BARC senior officials and the executives of Republic channels to manipulate viewership ratings for higher revenue. If genuine, these chats prove Mumbai Police’s claim that Goswami and Dasgupta worked closely to grab high ad revenue for Republic channels.

In return, Dasgupta is allegedly seeking favours from Goswami. Dasgupta wanted Goswami to tell “AS” to “pipe down” about the BARC. Not only that, he’s allegedly asking Goswami to get him a ‘media advisor’ role in the PMO.

Arnab Goswami is also allegedly telling Dasgupta that former I&B Minister, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, to set aside complaints against Republic TV.

At one place, Goswami is allegedly sharing inside gossip about a person called ‘PJ’ who is forced to write poems that ‘NM’ tweets as his own.
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Does ‘Arnabgate’ have security implications?

Arnab Goswami appears to be privy to top secret information, allege political activists and opposition leaders. The chats show him as telling Dasgupta that “something big” was going to happen in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack. This conversation allegedly took place three days before Balakot strikes.

Is ‘Arnabgate’ becoming a political issue to corner the Modi government?

Yes.

Congress is leading the charge and claiming that national security has been compromised.

P Chidambaram reacted immediately after the leaked conversations came into public view by asking on Twitter as to how “for your eyes only” information meant for the Raksha Mantri reached a journalist. Rahul Gandhi called it a criminal act. Congress President Sonia Gandhi has also sought investigation in the matter.

How has Arnab Goswami reacted to ‘Arnabgate’?

Arnab has defended the “something big” chat via a statement. He puts forth that he hasn’t revealed any privileged information and this conversation was similar to what the entire country was discussing right after the Pulwama terror attack.

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Has Arnab’s statement proved the authenticity of leaked chats?

Yes.

If the “somehing big” chat happened, so did others: they are part of the same document.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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