New Delhi: Some TV channels Thursday reported that deputy leader of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Asle Toje, had tipped Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be the “biggest contender” for the Nobel Peace Prize, while speaking at an event hosted by Delhi-based nonprofit, India Center Foundation (ICF).
The Norwegian Nobel Committee is responsible for selecting the Nobel Peace Prize laureates.
However, ICF chairman Vibhav K. Upadhyay told ThePrint that Indian news channels had misquoted Toje.
“Indian TV channels have misquoted Mr Toje. He never said that. I hope it is by mistake or by extra enthusiasm, but if this has been done by design, then it is criminal,” the ICF chairman said in an exclusive interaction, adding that he suspected certain media outlets had run false headlines for the purpose of sensationalism.
“This directly hits the chances of someone getting the Nobel Peace Prize because if a candidate is being discussed in public, his chances of getting that becomes very bleak,” he added.
The ICF, which describes itself as a non-profit “dedicated to the nation-building process of India”, hosted an event at the International India Center (IIC) in Delhi Wednesday. Toje attended the event, along with other prominent figures like former NITI Aayog chief Amitabh Kant and Congress MP Manish Tewari.
The ICF confirmed that it has reported certain individuals, who shared the “false narrative” on Twitter, to Delhi Police’s cybercrime branch, the Press Information Bureau and Twitter itself, requesting that such posts be taken down.
ThePrint reached Toje over email for a comment but has not yet received a response.
However, in an interview to ANI doing the rounds on Twitter, Toje himself denied he ever made such a statement, and termed it fake news.
Why has @ANI not tweeted this statement by Asle Toje? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/C3c6pUBdeI
— Mohammed Zubair (@zoo_bear) March 16, 2023
What did Asle Toje say about Modi?
During his speech, Toje, a Norwegian foreign policy scholar, spoke about the need for peace amid the Russia-Ukraine war. He added that India was becoming increasingly important in world politics and hoped that it fashions itself as a “peaceful great power”.
After the speech, Toje offered news bytes to various media.
Speaking to NDTV Hindi, he said: “I have noticed that PM Modi has intervened on a positive note in the Ukraine crisis…”
To Times Now, he described Modi as a seasoned leader and “one of the elder statesmen of this world”, saying this lends him credibility. “The style of diplomacy coming from India now is welcome in a world where there are many tensions,” he told the channel.
Speaking to ANI, the foreign policy expert praised PM Modi’s statement to Russian President Vladimir Putin last year that “today’s era is not of war”.
Interviewed by ABP, he was asked whether Modi’s efforts to address the Ukraine war were in the direction of a candidate who could be in the running for the Nobel Peace Prize.
“You’re asking whether he is a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize,” Toje laughed.
“The thing is, I have given the same answer to anybody. My answer is that I hope every leader of every nation will be inspired to do the work that is necessary to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. And I hope that for Modi[‘s]… initiatives will come to fruition,” he added.
Also read: Nobel committee deputy leader Asle Toje praises PM Modi’s statement “This is not era of war”