Time magazine’s cover story ‘India’s divider-in-chief’ was mooted on social media this week. A sharp critique of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the article, written by journalist and author Aatish Taseer was much discussed with regard to the author’s nationality rather than the contents of the piece itself. The ruling BJP has also dismissed the critique and refused to comment on it, pointing fingers instead at the author’s nationality. Amit Shah, the BJP national president, in an interview with Times Now reverberated the party line. In response to a question about PM Modi’s criticism in the article, he said, “See I believe the people of this country and their sixth sense is much bigger than any magazine. On 23rd [of May], It will be decided so as to how has Modi performed. According to the information that I have… an article written by a Pakistani author shouldn’t be taken with such credibility.”
Addressing a press conference, BJP spokesperson Dr. Sambit Patra reiterated the same claim. He said, “The man who called Modi divider-in-chief is a Pakistani man, he is a Pakistani citizen. You all know what Pakistan is like. They hate Narendra Modi because he did two surgical strikes on them. What else is there to say? But Rahul Gandhi is tweeting about it.”
— BJP MadhyaPradesh (@BJP4MP) May 11, 2019
BJP national spokesperson Syed Shahnawaz Hussain in a sound bite given to Zee News said, “The one who has written the article is a Pakistani. Whether he goes to America. In his mind, there must be instilled anger against Modi. We don’t need any certificate from Time magazine. In the history of India, if there were the least number of riots under anybody’s rule then it was under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi”. (translated)
Alt News found that BJP’s claim regarding the nationality of Aatish Taseer, son of Indian journalist Tavleen Singh and Pakistani politician Salman Taseer, as untrue. Taseer is a British national. He was born in the UK, grew up in India and is currently based out of New York, USA. Speaking to Tiranga TV about the BJP calling him a “Pakistani citizen”, Taseer said, “Well I have a very thick hide when it comes to criticism. I want people to speak as freely as they like. But when spokesmen of the BJP comes out and puts forward a lie saying that I am a Pakistani. When he knows very well I grew up in India and I have been to Pakistan as about as many times as you have, that kind of annoys me.”
Taseer wrote an article in The Wall Street Journal, when he got a green card for the United States of America.
The Day I Got My Green Card
London-born #AatishTaseer never felt he truly belonged in the places he and his family were from: India, Pakistan, Britain. In America, finally, he feels free—and at home
Senior journalist Tavleen Singh also rubbished the claims that her son is a Pakistani citizen. In a reply to actor Kabir Bedi’s tweet, she said, “Kabir disagree with what he writes. But, you know that he isn’t Pakistani.” In a conversation with Alt News, Tavleen Singh confirmed that Taseer is a British citizen.
Kabir disagree with what he writes. But, you know that he isn’t Pakistani. https://t.co/GKlz1QQDMr
— Tavleen Singh (@tavleen_singh) May 12, 2019
A narrative was sought to be created by the Bharatiya Janata Party that an international author who is critical of the Modi government in his article is a Pakistani citizen and thus, the contents of the piece cannot be credible. However, Aatish Taseer is a British citizen and not a Pakistani citizen as claimed.