The Aam Aadmi Party has been left red-faced by a video on YouTube which seems to indicate party convenor and former Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal sought to influence his portrayal in a TV interview.
The video — of a conversation between Kejriwal and Aaj Tak associate editor Punya Prasoon Bajpai after Kejriwal had been interviewed on February 14 following his resignation as CM — shows Kejriwal telling the interviewer to play up a certain segment of their interaction and speaking about why he wants to avoid a subject.
The video opens with Kejriwal speaking in Hindi to Bajpai about why he does not want to talk about the “corporate vala” because the middle class would turn against them.
Kejriwal says: “That is a little theoretical, what you were talking about, the middle class will turn against us, that we are against the private sector, against companies, which is why I’m not getting into that.”
At what seems to be the end of the interview, Kejriwal asks Bajpai to play up a certain part: “Run that part more.”
Bajpai seems to agree and says: “No, no that will run, that Bhagat Singh part, there will be strong reaction to that.”
The video drew sharp criticism from politicians, with Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, calling the interview an exercise in “cultivating a particular image”. “Friendly and collusive interviews intended to cultivate a particular image is a strategy of the AAP. This clearly shows the party and its leader pretending to be what they are not. They project the image of themselves which is unreal. Between reality and projection there is a complete mismatch,” Jaitley wrote in his blog.
AAP, however, denied there was any wrongdoing and said the video intended to malign. “The interview was shown live and without any cuts, and this is purely an attempt by vested interests to malign us. Arvindji has not said or done anything wrong, and this is a desperate attempt to show him in poor light,” an AAP spokesperson said.
A statement from Aaj Tak said the clip was being circulated as part of a motivated campaign to malign its reputation.
“The Kejriwal interview was aired live in full on February 14, 2014 on all platforms of the India Today Group. In the conversation, Arvind Kejriwal is asking the anchor to highlight parts of the interview. The India Today Group wishes to categorically state that no part of the interview was edited by our network,” it said.
“The entire interview was telecast live. Even during the repeat broadcast the entire content of the interview was carried unedited. Aaj Tak has maintained its lead as the most watched news channel in India for 13 years by upholding the highest standard of journalistic integrity. India Today Group does not believe that media should take sides or choose favourites.”