New Delhi: The Congress Wednesday upped the ante in its attack on the Narendra Modi government over the ‘Arnab Chat Gate’, with former defence minister A.K. Antony saying the government’s committed an “act of treason” by allegedly passing on information about the Balakot airstrikes to Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami.
“Leaking of an official secret is a criminal act… leaking information about sensitive military operations is treason. It is an anti-national activity. They need to be punished. No mercy,” Antony said, adding that it was a violation of the Official Secrets Act (OSA).
“This was an anti-national act,” Antony said.
On Wednesday, the party fielded a battery of leaders at a press conference to intensify the heat on the issue that has caused a political storm in the last few days.
Besides Antony, the other leaders present included former home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, former law and foreign affairs minister Salman Khurshid and leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, who raised questions over who from the government made the alleged leak of security information.
The leaders said they will also raise the issue in Parliament. The Budget Session is scheduled to start on 29 January.
“The country has seen two-three wars, we have had governments of various parties… but no official secret has ever been disclosed like this. It is something to be taken up in Parliament,” Shinde said.
The move came just a day after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi held a press conference, where he termed the passing on of information a “criminal act” and pointed fingers at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other top leaders of the government.
Hours after the party’s press conference, Goswami released a statement denying all the allegations and said he will “sue the Congress”.
Also read: Sajad Lone’s Peoples Conference quits Gupkar Alliance, cites ‘breach of trust’ by partners
The Jaitley issue
In its latest salvo, the Congress leaders also questioned the context in which former finance minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley’s name was mentioned in Goswami’s purported WhatsApp chats with former Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) chief executive Partho Dasgupta.
When Jaitley was in hospital in August 2019, following deterioration in his health condition, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) did not know what to do as the former FM was “stretching it”, Goswami had purportedly told Dasgupta.
In the WhatsApp chats, dated 19 August 2019, Goswami purportedly said, “Jaitley stretching it. PMO doesn’t know what to do. PM leaving on Wednesday for France.” To this, Dasgupta replied, “So hasn’t died yet?”
In response, Goswami said: “maintaining him. I expect something by evening. One of my meetings in Delhi gets pushed because of this.”
Jaitley died on 24 August 2019, five days after this conversation.
After serving as the FM in the first term of the Modi government, Jaitley underwent a kidney transplant in May 2019. He also opted out of contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha elections reportedly owing to his prolonged ill-health. He was rushed to hospital on 9 August 2019, after he complained of breathlessness and restlessness.
The France trip referred to in the chats is presumably PM Modi’s visit to the country on 22 August 2019, as the first leg of his three-nation tour of the time.
Also read: Masterstroke, desperation or calculated move? Why Mamata will fight from Nandigram
This after all the favours they received from Jaitley: Congress
On Wednesday, the Congress party called Goswami’s chat about Jaitley an “inhumane display of insensitivity”.
“What exactly did Arnab Goswami mean when he said that they were ‘maintaining him’?” the party said in its statement.
Khurshid said he was really “hurt” by the context in which Jaitley was mentioned in the chats.
“The kind of conversations that have come up about him, when he was in death bed… nothing can be more painful than this. Here is a cynical, hardened mind talking about why he is being kept alive. If this is how they treat their own people — and I don’t know how many favours they may have received from him throughout his career — then I don’t know how they would treat ordinary people,” Khurshid said.
The chats in question are part of Mumbai Police’s charge sheet, submitted before a court, in a case pertaining to alleged manipulation of Television Rating Points by news channels, including Republic TV. Among other things, the chats purportedly show Goswami having prior knowledge of major government decisions such as the Balakot airstrikes.
‘Will sue the Congress’
After the Congress press conference, Goswami issued a statement via Republic TV saying he will “sue the Congress party”.
#ArnabFightsBack | Arnab: I have decided to sue the Congress party, take strong legal action against their lies, and expose them in the courts of law. People of India: Join hands with Republic as we fight this political conspiracy with all our strength. The truth is on our side. pic.twitter.com/mJBgpjRVpG
— Republic (@republic) January 20, 2021
“I have decided to sue the Congress party, take strong legal action against their lies, and expose them in the courts of law,” the statement read.
Terming Congress’ allegations as “hogwash” and “falsehood”, Goswami said he will file a criminal complaint against the party’s leaders. He alleged the Congress has “uttered a series of absolute falsehoods, concocted lies, fabricated facts, unimaginable twisting of statements” against him.
“The problem with the Congress party is that they cannot stand a nationalist channel with a nationalist Editor-in-Chief,” Goswami said.
Also read: Yediyurappa gets a stick against Karnataka BJP dissidents as Amit Shah gives him ‘free hand’
Bunch of jokers and imbeciles. I hope congress get rid of all these losers and become professional by getting rid of these old fags.
AK Antony was the most spineless defence minister india has ever seen and he is lecturing about anti national act.
There is a reason why Congress is reduced to 44 and you have to work for Print!!. Even if knew and kept it secret, HATS OFF TO HIM
This is no act of treason in my book – – after all the leak did not happen before the strike. If an airforce chief, hypothetically speaking, reveals the secret to his wife who is also his best friend and confidant of thirty years, and if it comes to light one or two years after the act that he indeed “leaked” the secret to his wife, then will or should he be blamed for treason? I don’t think so. The accusation seems to stick because Arnab Goswami is an ill-mannered, foul-mouthed disgusting brat; what if the recepient of the top secret info was an otherwise respectable man like an N. Ram, or a Narayana Murthy, or a Ratan Tata? The treason charge would have looked insipid in that case.
The opposition is barking up the wrong tree. In my book a TREASON DID HAPPEN, BUT THAT WAS PULWAMA ITSELF and not any leak of information about Balakot which happened in its aftermath. 2500 CRPF soldiers were sent on a journey of FEW HUNDRED kilometers, in 75 flimsy tinbox buses and not armoured vehicles AND THE CIVILIAN TRAFFIC WAS FREELY ALLOWED TO RUN PARALLEL TO THIS CONVOY. Was that fatal ignorance, or fatal negligence, or murderous plot of somebody in power? Were some people secretly praying to God that “something” should happen SO BALAKOT COULD HAPPEN, and an election could be won? Our innocent but brave soldiers were murdered. If it happened because of “innocent negligence” of some, then why was Davender Singh, the then police chief of Pulwama PROMOTED? This was the same SP Davender Singh who was later arrested by his own police colleagues when he was ferrying two known terrorists to Delhi. When he was arrested by his superior, he said, “Sir aap game kharab mutt karo”. Who was this officer Davender Singh who was given to organizing “games” with his terrorist friends, and was planning some such game in Delhi for the then forthcoming 26 January or 15 August, I forget which? And I return to my earlier question : why was Davender Singh, who was the police chief at Pulwama PROMOTED after the Pulwama attack?
I wanted to say in the first line, “after all the leak did not affect the strike negatively”.
One whole party against one person! What has Congress come to now. Don’t they have better things to fight for? They don’t realize they are making Arnab a hero now.
The great social worker and human rights activists MUKHTAR ANSARI is not being handed over to UP government as it’s important that such men of peace available to support CONGRASS .
However ARNAB a stupid news anchor is rightly regarded as a person who committed treason.
HINDUS must decide who is a terrorist and who is a nationalist.
SUSHILJI SHINDEJI as home minister had identified rightly HINDUS as terrorist.
Comments are closed.