BBC documentary timing is not “accidental”, it is “politics by another means,” says Jaishankar

21 February, 2023 | Pragati Singh

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Sometimes politics of India do not even originate within its borders, but come from outside.

“Actual politics” is being carried out “ostensibly as media” by people who lack the “courage to come into political field,” said External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, referring to the contentious BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In an interview, Jaishankar described the uproar as “politics by another means,” adding, “Sometimes politics of India do not even originate within its borders, but come from outside.”

“We are not debating just a documentary or a speech that somebody gave in a European city or a newspaper edits somewhere — we are debating, actually politics, which is being conducted ostensibly as media — there is a phrase ‘war by other means’ this is politics by another means — I mean you will do a hatchet job, you want to do a hatchet job and say this is just another quest for truth which we decided after 20 years to put at this time,” he said.

The documentary’s release a year before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections was questioned by the external affairs minister.

“I mean, come on, you think timing is accidental! Let me tell you one thing – I don’t know if the election season has started in India, Delhi or not, but, for sure it has started in London, New York,” he added.

The BBC released a documentary film titled “India: The Modi Question” in January, which features the Gujarat riots of 2002. The film sparked outrage for alluding to PM Modi’s role in the riots while ignoring the Supreme Court’s clear ruling in his favour.

“I mean, do you doubt it? Look who the cheerleaders are. What is happening is, just like I told you — this drip, drip, drip — how do you shape a very extremist image of India, of the government, of the BJP, of the Prime Minister. I mean, this has been going on for a decade, ” said Jaishankar when asked about some western media’s bias against PM Modi in India.

According to the EAM, the goal of spreading such stories abroad is to further the anti-India agenda.

“Let’s not have illusions about it…, there is an echo chamber, it will be picked outside and then they will say it is being said outside, it must be true. Then you will say it inside. There is a ding-dong going on, look this is a globalized world, people take that politics abroad,” said the EAM.

He further asked, “Why suddenly there is a surge of reports and attention and views?” I mean, were some of these things not happening earlier. Many things happened in Delhi in 1984, why don’t we see a documentary on that? If that was your concern, you suddenly feel one day, “I am very humanistic, I must get justice for people who have been wronged, ” said Jaishankar.

He also advised not to be duped by such agendas and challenged the propagator to enter the political arena.

“This is politics at play by people who do not have the courage to come into the political field. They want to have that teflon cover saying that I am an NGO, media organisation etc. They are playing politics,” Jaishankar asserted.

In his various interactions on various platforms abroad, the EAM has praised India’s democracy as a guiding force not only for the country, but for the entire world to emulate. In an interview with ANI, the minister stated that the people’s verdict will clear up any confusion.

“Among other things in a democracy – don’t you trust the ballot box, people’s verdict to be the final opinion? I do. I know there are certain people who believe that their view supersedes elections. Look, I like you, you win election–great democracy. I don’t like you win election. What are you — ‘electoral autocracy’. That’s reserved for people whom you don’t like to win elections. This is politics,” said Jaishankar.