Other AAP leaders have accused four TV channels of “running a campaign against the party” and said they will complain to the Election Commission.
In a video clip aired by ABP News, Kejriwal, while addressing a party fund-raising dinner in Nagpur Thursday, said: “The whole media is sold out this time, it is a big conspiracy, it is a huge political controversy. If our government comes to power, we will set up an inquiry into this. And along with the media people, all will be sent to jail,” he said, slamming the media for focusing on his security deployment.
Kejriwal alleged that “heavy amounts” have been paid to promote Narendra Modi. “Since the last one year, we have been told that Modi is here, Modi is there. Since one year, Modi has also been saying that. Even some TV channels have been saying Ram Rajya has come… Why did they do it? Because there is a big conspiracy… money has been paid to TV channels. Heavy amounts have been paid to promote Modi,” he said.
“Around 800 farmers have committed suicide in Gujarat in the past 10 years, but no channel has shown it.” He alleged that land had been sold to the Adani Group for just “one rupee but even this has not been shown by any channel”.
After the video went viral and he came under attack, Kejriwal denied making such remarks. “I didn’t say that. How can I be upset with you (media)?”
Slamming Kejriwal for his remarks, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said, “This is a fascist tendency and Emergency mindset. He is working for Congress… He is not speaking about Rahul Gandhi or Congress. He is only targeting Modi because he wants to get mileage out of it. His mindset is revealed. They are Maoists in urban outfit.”
Union Minister and Congress leader Kapil Sibal criticised Kejriwal for running away from governance. “He can’t do anything to the media because media is competent,” he said.
The AAP came to its leader’s defence, saying he was referring to a section of the media which was running an “agenda” of the BJP and Modi. “Kejriwal has said that a section of media was implementing the agenda of Modi and BJP. His comments were directed against them. His comments were against those who distort news and resort to paid news,” AAP’s Sanjay Singh told a press conference.
He named four channels — Zee News, India TV, India News and Times Now — and said they have been “running a campaign against us… we will take up the issue with the Election Commission and give them relevant proof.”
AAP’s Chandni Chowk candidate and former journalist Ashutosh said a recent sting operation had shown that some of the agencies which conduct opinion polls before elections were willing to tweak their findings for money. “No action has been taken against television channels and the opinion poll agencies yet,” he said.
There were heated arguments between reporters and AAP leaders over the allegations. Journalist Ashish Khetan, who is the party candidate from New Delhi, also attacked the media, saying a section was only promoting Modi and not writing critical stories against the Gujarat government.
The Broadcast Editors’ Association reacted strongly to the “irresponsible” remarks. “BEA condemns Arvind Kejriwal’s irresponsible statement on media. BEA believes that electronic media is discharging its responsibility in a fair and objective manner,” the association said in a statement.
“We have strong faith in the self-regulatory institutions that electronic media has developed and would request any aggrieved person to approach them with specific complaints and evidence. Vague and sweeping allegations are a sign of weakness,” the statement by BEA president Shazi Zaman and general secretary N K Singh said.