The 2019 Lok Sabha elections have entered the 5th phase and among the constituencies that are in polls is West Bengal. The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Trinamool Congress are taking each other head-on in the state, with the Prime Minister himself involved in the campaigning. On May 6, he targetted the TMC by terming the party ‘TTT’ or ‘Trinamool, Tolabaazi, Tax.’ The Bengali word ‘Tolabaazi’ translates extortionists.
Subsequent to the PM’s statement, several mainstream media outlets reported that Mamata Banerjee’s response to his remark was – “I will slap Modi.”
The West Bengal Chief Minister was misquoted in news broadcasts. She did not say, “I will slap Modi,” but stated, “I want to give PM Modi a tight slap of democracy.” The Trinamool Congress uploaded Banerjee’s video where she can be heard saying, “নরেন্দ্র মোদী যখন বাংলায় এসে বলে মমতা ব্যানার্জী তোলাবাজ, তখন শুনলে আমার মনে হয় দি ঠাসি একটা ভালো করে গণতন্ত্রের থাপ্পড় (When Narendra Modi comes to Bengal and accuses Mamata Banerjee of being Tolabaaz, I feel like giving him a tight slap of democracy.)”
Here is the clipping where @MamataOfficial says
“When Narendra Modi came to Bengal and accused my party of being tolabaaj, I wanted to give him a tight slap of democracy” pic.twitter.com/7VAJB8WPF1
— All India Trinamool Congress (@AITCofficial) May 7, 2019
Media outlets that misreported Banerjee’s statement
In the May 7 broadcast of her flagship program ‘Halla Bol’, Aaj Tak’s Anjana Om Kashyap reiterated multiple times during the length of the show that Mamata Banerjee said that she will slap Prime Minister Modi.
In the middle of a heated debate between the spokespersons of the BJP and the TMC, Kashyap interjected the TMC delegate and asked, “अच्छा थप्पड़ वाले बयान पे एकबार बोलिये मनोजीत जी (Comment on the ‘slap’ statement, Manojit ji.)”
A little further into the broadcast, she accused Banerjee of sympathising with ‘immigrants’ and the ‘neighbouring country’. She questioned the TMC spokesperson, “इतना सम्मान जो कमज़ोर है उसकी देख-रेख करना देश में, जो पड़ोसी मुल्क से आये उससे भी भाईचारा रखना, इतनी महान बाते करने वाली, देश के प्रधानमंत्री को थप्पड़ क्यों मारना चाहती है? (Giving such respect to the ‘weak’ and taking care of them in the country, maintaining brotherhood with the neighbouring state, a person who speaks so righteously, she wants to slap the country’s Prime Minister?)”
After the TMC delegate’s response that PM Modi visits West Bengal for politicising issues, Kashyap reiterated, “पर पीएम के लिए ऐसा बोलना सही है क्या की मेरा मन करता है उनको थप्पड़ मार दू? (But is it right for her to say ‘I want to slap PM Modi’?”
Aaj Tak’s broadcast can be viewed below. Anchor Anjana Om Kashyap can be heard making the three statements onward 38:30 minutes.
‘हवन करेंगे…हवन करेंगे’ ! देखिए #हल्ला_बोल @anjanaomkashyap के साथ #ATLivestream
Posted by News Tak on Tuesday, 7 May 2019
The news organisation also published an article on the erroneous quote – ‘आपे से बाहर हुईं ममता बनर्जी बोलीं- मोदी को थप्पड़ मारने का मन करता है’ (Mamata Banerjee lost her temper and said- I feel like slapping Modi.)
“जब नरेंद्र मोदी बंगाल आकर कहते हैं कि टीएमसी लुटेरों से भरी पड़ी है तो मुझे उन्हें थप्पड़ मारने का मन हुआ:” ममता बनर्जी https://t.co/1jL4MKMseb
— आज तक (@aajtak) May 7, 2019
The popular Hindi news channel, ABP News, ran an over 10-minute broadcast on Mamata Banerjee’s recent remark. Despite the show being titled, ‘PM Narendra Modi needs a ‘slap of democracy’: Mamata Banerjee’, anchor Rubika Liyaquat’s translation of Mamata Banerjee’s statement omitted the word ‘democracy’.
At around 8:35 minutes into the program, a member of the audience questioned the BJP spokesperson if his party plans on winning elections on Hinduvad and aantankvad. As soon as he asked, “Is the BJP even concerned about small traders?”, Liyaquat interrupted and said, “A big news is coming our way.”
The ‘big’ news was Mamata Banerjee’s statement that Liyaquat had misquoted. “आपको पता है क्या हुआ है अभी? ममता बनर्जी ने प्रधानमंत्री मोदी पे बड़ा हमला किया। वो कह रही है मैं पीएम को थप्पड़ मरूंगी। (Do you know what happened just now? Mamata Banerjee massively targetted Prime Minister Modi. She said ‘I will slap the PM’.”
Recently, Rubika Liyaquat was also found defending Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani’s educational qualification” with falsehood.
“West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that she will slap Prime Minister Modi’s face as he was saying that Mamata Banerjee’s party is a party of extortionists…” reported CNN News18 at the start of its May 7 broadcast. The statement attributed to Banerjee was repeated throughout the over 7-minute broadcast, with the channel flashing ‘Mamata threatens to slap the PM’ on TV screens.
CNN News18 later took down the broadcast (archive) and tweeted a correction with Banerjee’s original statement.
— News18 (@CNNnews18) May 7, 2019
The Hindi outlet of Indian Express – Jansatta – published an article on the false quote attributed to Banerjee. Jansatta’s report was titled – ‘अलग दौर में पहुंचा ‘वर्ड-वॉर’, ममता बनर्जी ने कहा- मोदी को थप्पड़ मारने का मन करता है (The battle of words has taken a different turn, Mamata Banerjee said- I feel like slapping Modi.)’
अलग दौर में पहुंचा ‘वर्ड-वॉर’, ममता बनर्जी ने कहा- मोदी को थप्पड़ मारने का मन करता है https://t.co/CuDSoutUVF
— Jansatta (@Jansatta) May 7, 2019
Among those who misreported West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s statement, CNN News18 was the only one to have uploaded a clarification. Aaj Tak and ABP News, on the other hand, used the misleading quote to defend the Prime Minister and the BJP.
Banerjee’s remarks were rightly reported by several other media organisations.
#WATCH West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee in Purulia: Money doesn’t matter to me.That is why when Narendra Modi came to Bengal and accused my party of being Tolabaaz (Toll collector), I wanted to give him a tight slap of democracy pic.twitter.com/JnE5xywWJI
— ANI (@ANI) May 7, 2019
[This article has been updated to include Jansatta’s misreport and CNN News18’s clarification. Dainik Bhaskar, which was wrongly included in the story, has been taken down.]