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CPI(M) Helping BJP? Shocking TOI Falsehood That May Hamper WB’s Social Harmony: Raiganj MP Md Salim

"The entire report is based on statements by an unknown BJP member."

In The Times of India, Kolkata edition, dated 9th May, 2019, a story headlined, ‘When Red takes on a shade of saffron’, with a subhead, ‘CPM cadres silently help BJP in fight against Didi’, by one Mohua Chatterjee, contains a series of pernicious lies about the Communist Party of India-Marxist, its members and supporters. The writer seeks to present shocking falsehoods about the CPIM, in a manner, that may even harm the social harmony of West Bengal in the short run.

Ms Chatterjee’s claim that ‘CPIM workers are helping BJP manage booths’, during the ongoing elections, does not follow basic journalistic norms. There is no quote of any CPIM cadre or polling agent, not even an anonymous one, nor has any effort been made to get the party’s version. The entire report is based on statements by an unknown BJP member, which may well be a figment of the writer’s imagination.

The fact of the matter is, CPIM cadres have put their lives at stake, trying to ensure that all citizens are able to cast their own votes. As foot soldiers of democracy, CPIM polling agents have been attacked by Trinamool goons, even after voting was over. Countless first-hand reports, in the form of videos, photographs and texts are available on social media, which prove how upbeat CPIM cadres fought ferociously to protect their booths. These examples have been verified by ToI’s sister publication, Ei Samay, as well.

Also read: TMC Used Us to Capture Power, Say Nandigram Victims’ Kin Awaiting Justice

It is well known to the politically conscious voters of West Bengal that The Times of India, along with other publications, receives advertisements worth lakhs, if not crores, from parties like Bharatiya Janata Party and Trinamool Congress. There is also great public anger over BJP government at the Centre and TMC government in West Bengal using crores in tax-payer money to put out advertisements with media publications. The impact of this financial exchange often shows up as a quid pro quo arrangement, which is becoming clear to readers, viewers and voters of West Bengal.

Over the past few months, serious issues involving the youth have either been censored or grossly underplayed – be it the month-long SSC aspiring teachers’ hunger strike; or the serious scam involving salaries of computer teachers, who faced extreme police brutality for daring to protest.
Even the shocking ‘shadow ban’ of a film ‘Bhobishyoter Bhooth’ was not taken up seriously by media houses in Kolkata, for fear of provoking the wrath of Chief Minister Mamata Bandyopadhyay.

The people of West Bengal are deeply alarmed at the prevailing political situation in the state. They are exhausted by the corruption and violence of the Trinamool Congress, where even journalists are facing brutal attacks, with no hope of getting justice.

In this eco-system, saturated with conflict, the BJP is trying to create social disharmony and trigger even more violence.

This is an unprecedented era of crisis for West Bengal. The media must rise to the occasion and play a responsible and honest role, by exposing the perpetrators of corruption, violence and communalism.

Instead of this, the media has created false narratives by constantly projecting a mock fight between BJP and TMC, and writing scurrilous lies about the Communist Party of India-Marxist. This is nothing short of harakiri.

For the sake of the people of West Bengal, we urge the journalist community to show professional integrity and desist from filing inaccurate, false reports that create a negative environment and generate pessimism and hopelessness.

We also appeal to the media to highlight positive alternatives, give adequate space to optimistic politics and bring some hope and solace to the beleaguered people of West Bengal.

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