A day after Arvind Kejriwal accused a section of media of bias, I&B minister Manish Tewari today said Aam Admi Party had failed to take the heat of media scrutiny after it chose to form a government and had undermined its credibility with its 'cut and run' strategy. He also took an aim at the BJP and its prime mnisterial candidate Narendra Modi, accusing them of being intolerant.
"The Aam Aadmi Party was enjoying the benign benefaction of the media till the time they chose to become a part of the government. And when the media put them under scrutiny, they were unable to take the heat," Tewari told reporters at the sidelines of 8th Indian Magazine Congress.
He said that if AAP had the conviction or the courage, they would have stayed on in the government in Delhi and delivered on their promises. "So this whole strategy of cut and run, of not taking responsibility, of shirking responsibility when it is given to them in order to fulfil their commitments is something which has played out so magnificently in the media space that today their entire credibility stands undermined," Tewari said.
The Minister was asked to respond to claims made by AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal that a section of media has been told to cover Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi and "defame" him.
Earlier in his speech at the event, Tewari said the ability to take criticism did not come easily to his party's opponents. He asked those present to introspect whether the next five or ten years are going to be safe and secure for fundamental freedoms of speech and expression. "The reason I say this is not because there is a certain genocide or pogrom which plays on mind," Tewari said apparently referring to the Gujarat riots and added that what really troubled him is the "continuing manifestation of that intolerance as it plays out on a day to day basis."
He said that farmers from Punjab who had settled in Gujarat were being hounded out of from there and accused the Modi of "hypocrisy" by trying to push the blame on to his officers. "So while you go along with your deliberations, these theocratic tendencies and also whether innovation is not another buzzword for anarchy should also factor in your deliberations," he told participants at the Indian Magazine Congress.
Tewari said the intolerance of the "right wing" to criticism was on the rise. "From what I hear from my friends in the media is the growing intolerance of right wing, not only right wing but newly emerged players in the media space to be able to tolerate or take criticism in their stride," he said.
He said the manner in which eminent editors had been hounded in the social media space, made him worried about the kind of tendencies which were trying to occupy the centre stage.
Tewari said the UPA government had in the last ten years tried to consolidate a liberal information in the country. He said more then 400 news and current affairs channels were competing for only 7% of the viewership. He said a flawed revenue model was one of the reasons for the "corrosiveness" and "dog eat dog syndrome" which was seen in the media space. Tewari said Digitisation would improve the situation.
He further said that magazines have a very important role in the society as they allowed a journalist a chance to take a dispassionate and analytical views of events without the pressure to deliver content one second ahead of competition.