Editors Guild Slams Rahul Over ‘Pliable’ Remark, Cong Hits Back
Congress President Rahul Gandhi and ANI Editor Smita Prakash.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi and ANI Editor Smita Prakash.(Photo: Altered by The Quint)

Editors Guild Slams Rahul Over ‘Pliable’ Remark, Cong Hits Back

The Editors Guild of India on Thursday, 3 January, criticised Congress President Rahul Gandhi for using the word “pliable” in his criticism of ANI Editor-in-Chief Smita Prakash, who interviewed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 1 January.

The Guild expressed concern over how "labeling of journalists has emerged as a favourite tactic on the part of the establishment to discredit, delegitimise and intimidate them”. It also noted that in the past, top BJP leaders, as well as those of the AAP, have used “abusive expressions” like “presstitutes”, “news-traders”, “bazaaru” and “dalals” against journalists.

“Combined with ploys such as boycotts, denial of access and lately government accreditation, this adds up to a reprehensible strategy to throttle media freedoms.”
The Editors Guild of India in its statement

Congress Defends Rahul’s Remark

Following the release of The Guild’s statement, the Congress defended its president’s remark in a video-tweet, saying, "Pliable isn't offensive, it's the state of Indian journalism today."

In another tweet, the Congress mocked PM Modi while indicating his ‘close relationship’ with Reliance Group Chairperson Anil Ambani, whom Gandhi recently referred to as “ Double A” in Parliament.

Grandson of 'Emergency Dictator' Shows His DNA: Jaitley Taunts Rahul

Meanwhile, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley called Gandhi "the Grandson of the 'Emergency dictator'."

"The Grandson of the 'Emergency dictator' displays his real DNA – attacks and intimidates an independent Editor," Jaitley tweeted, referring to Rahul Gandhi and his grandmother, late Indira Gandhi, who imposed Emergency rule in the country.

"Why are the pseudo liberals silent? Waiting for the Editors Guild's response," Jaitley said in another tweet.

On Wednesday, Rahul Gandhi described Modi’s interview to a news agency as “staged” and said that it was conducted by a “pliable journalist”.

Smita Prakash, the news editor who interviewed Modi, described the Congress leader's remarks as a "cheap shot", saying she was asking questions and not answering.

"Dear Rahul Gandhi, cheap shot at your press conference to attack me. I was asking questions, not answering. You want to attack Modi, go ahead but downright absurd to ridicule me. Not expected of a President of the oldest political party in the country," she tweeted.

'Political Leadership Should Be Temperate in Criticism of Each Other and Media'

Expressing concern over the "gradual decline" in the nature of political discourse, three media bodies urged political leadership across party lines to be temperate in their criticism of each other and the media.

“While neutrality is expected of journalists, they, too, expect restraint from political class at large while commenting on them especially when the political atmosphere is getting charged with general elections approaching,” a joint statement, issued by the Press Club of India, Indian Women's Press Corps and Press Association, said.

“Terms like ‘presstitute’ used by a former Union minister and more recently ‘pliable’ by the president of a political party for the media are inappropriate and lower the dignity of discourse in general,” they said.

"We urge all sections of civil society, including sections of political leadership cutting across all political parties, to be temperate in their criticism towards each other as well as towards the Indian media," the statement said.

They also noted with "deep concern" the continued incarceration of Manipur journalist Kishorechand Wangkhem under the National Security Act for his social media post criticising members of the ruling party at the state and Centre.

"We reiterate our demand that the charges against Mr Wangkhem be dropped, more so after he was exonerated earlier by a court that did not find anything seditious in his remarks," they said.

Journalists School Rahul, Other Politicians on Twitter

Many journalists and people related to the media also took to Twitter to ask for a more reputable and “sane language” for criticising journalists.

However, many others disagreed...

(With inputs from PTI, IANS)

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