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Indira banned BBC, says BJP; End is near, warns Congress

Last updated on: February 14, 2023 17:08 IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday accused the BBC of unleashing "venomous" reporting against India and alleged that its propaganda and the Congress' agenda go together.

Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images

The remarks came soon after Income Tax officials surveyed the British broadcaster's offices in Mumbai and Delhi.

Addressing a press conference, BJP national spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia rejected the Congress' criticism of the Income Tax action and said the government agency should be allowed to do its job.

Hitting out at the London-headquartered public broadcaster, he said BBC is the "most corrupt" organisation in the world, adding that the Congress should remember that the then prime minister Indira Gandhi had also banned the broadcaster.

The BJP leader further claimed that BBC has a "tainted and black history of working with malice against India".


He cited its past reports, including the one which described a terrorist as a "charismatic young militant" and allegedly called Holi a "filthy" festival. It works in India, but has little regard for its constitution, he said.

"This shows that the BBC does venomous and shallow reporting on India. The BBC wishes to operate in India yet refuses to respect the icons of the country. In a BBC programme, its presenter had the temerity to say that Mahatma Gandhi had failed in his attempt to liberate India in 1946," Bhatia said.

To buttress his point, the BJP spokesperson said former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher described the BBC as "Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation". The news broadcaster should definitely pay heed to the words of UK's longest serving prime minister, he said.

Bhatia said India is a country that gives opportunity to every organisation and individual as long as they are willing to abide by the Constitution and do not have hidden agendas and "spew venom" against the country.

At a time when India is marching ahead globally under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership, there are many powers which do not like it, Bhatia said, claiming that the Congress, its leader Rahul Gandhi and other opposition parties also feel the "pain" at the country's rise.

Accusing the opposition Congress of supporting "anti-national" forces, he said, "Your hate for Modi is so much that you politicise even a probe agency's work. You always question constitutional authorities like the Supreme Court and the Election Commission."

The Congress on Tuesday took a swipe at the government over the Income Tax survey operation at the BBC offices, saying while they were demanding a JPC on the Adani issue, the Centre is after the BBC.

The Income Tax Department on Tuesday conducted a survey operation at BBC offices in Delhi and Mumbai as part of a tax evasion investigation, officials said.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh also used a Hindi idiom to attack the government, saying "Vinash Kale, Vipreet Buddhi" (when doom approaches, a person's intellect works against his interest).

"Here we are demanding JPC on the Adani issue, but the government is after the BBC. Vinash Kale Viprit Buddhi," Ramesh said.

A recent BBC series on 2002 Gujarat riots has come in for criticism from the ruling BJP in India, with the government blocking access to it on social media platforms.

Reacting to the development, Congress general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal said the IT raid at BBC's offices "reeks of desperation and shows that the Modi government is scared of criticism".

"We condemn these intimidation tactics in the harshest terms. This undemocratic and dictatorial attitude cannot go on any longer," he said in a tweet.

The action by the IT Department comes weeks after the broadcaster aired a two-part documentary -- India: The Modi Question.

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