A political controversy erupted in Maharashtra after the state’s BJP unit Chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule was caught telling party workers “to take journalists to tea shops and treat them well to avoid negative publicity ahead of the polls.” The BJP leader’s audio clip went viral on social media and sparked a political slugfest in no time.
According to PTI, Bawankule reportedly gave the alleged ‘instructions’ to his party workers in Ahmednagar while addressing a gathering on the management of poll booths.
In the audio clip, Bawankule was heard “Small-time video journalists running news portals and residing in your booth areas sometimes present a minor incident as if some blast has taken place”.
He further asked his workers to prepare a list of journalists whom he termed “nuisance-creating journalists” and invited for refreshments to persuade them not to write anything against BJP leaders.
“Prepare a list of such nuisance-creating journalists, including those from the electronic media or print, and invite them for a cup of tea to dhabas so that they would not write anything against us ahead of Maha Vijay 2024. You know what I mean by inviting them for a cup of tea,” PTI quoted Bawankule as saying.
“Take them to dhabas. Treat them well and ensure no negative news comes out against us. There should be positive news about us. Protect your booths first,” Bawankule added.
While Bawankule issued a clarification regarding his controversial remarks, the opposition parties have launched an all-out attack on BJP alleging that the saffron party was trying to manage the media through its tactics.
In his defence, Bawankule said that he meant that journalists are so important that they can even change the opinion of the people.
“Journalists are also voters and why should there be a bias against them? It is not good if you do not meet them, talk to them or seek their opinion. I gave this kind of advice to them (BJP workers),” Bawankule told reporters.
With inputs from News18