‘Cong-Mewani link exposed’ was the headline on Republic TV which alleged that Jignesh Mewani’s press conference held in New Delhi on January 5 at the Press Club of India was sponsored and arranged by the Congress party. The story was top priority for the channel, as it repeatedly played footage of their reporter ‘chasing’ a man named Alankar Sawai, who is an aide of Congress President Rahul Gandhi and who according to Republic TV had organised Mewani’s presser. Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of Republic TV took it upon himself to report the ‘news’ of the ‘link’ between Mewani and the Congress party. The channel ran the hashtag #CongSponsorsJignesh and asked the question ‘Why was Rahul Gandhi’s right hand man organising Jignesh’s press meet?
— Republic (@republic) January 5, 2018
“Anuj (Republic TV reporter) tracked him (Sawai) and realised that all the administrative arrangements for the death toll politics advocate Jignesh Mewani are being done by Rahul Gandhi who has sent his man to organise things for him“, said Goswami in his prime time show. He further went on to say, “Jignesh is a gun on hire, available to the highest bidder which at this time seems to be the Congress party”.
Alt News decided to verify this claim by Republic TV and found that the venue for the press conference had been booked by Raza Haider, who is a freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker. Haider confirmed that Jignesh Mewani had requested him to book the venue since he is a member of the Press Club of India. He also sent a copy of the receipt which showed that he paid Rs 6825 to book the venue.
The time for the press conference announced by Jignesh on his Facebook timeline matches the receipt.
Mewani confirmed that he had asked Haider to book the venue. “I had called Raza Haider on 4th night requesting him to book the press club for a conference and he had booked it for me”, he said. Alt News also spoke to Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala and inquired about the presence of Rahul Gandhi’s close aide Alankar Sawai at the press conference. Surjewala said, “The truth is that BJP’s divisive policies have shattered the harmony in Maharashtra between communities that existed for decades. It has got aggravated with deliberate inaction and political dishonesty of Fadnavis Government. Instead of exposing such core issues, they are running after non issues. Any individual having gone in press conference of an independent MLA is part of his private right and cannot be used for political point scoring”.
With the evidence available at hand, there seems to be little truth to the claim that Mewani’s press conference was organised and sponsored by the Congress party. Republic TV’s coverage of this incident was high on decibel but low on facts. Is this yet another indication that the channel’s reportage continues to be dictated by the imperative of incessantly maligning the opposition while going soft on the ruling party?