The Bharatiya Janata Party and Aam Aadmi Party on Friday traded jibes – the BJP accused the AAP of highlighting ‘paid news’ copies- after reports of its education model in Delhi were carried in The New York Times and the Khaleej Times (which credited NYT for the copy).
AAP MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj told reporters: “I challenge them (the BJP), use whatever money you have… whatever power you have. You try and get an article published in The New York Times if you think that is possible.”
The AAP also pointed out the copy that appeared in the Khaleej Times credited NYT for the content, and that Delhi government had no hand in its publication.
Bharadwaj’s sarcastic retort came after several BJP leaders, including union minister Meenakshi Lekhi and the party’s IT cell in-charge, Amit Malviya, accused the AAP of paying The New York Times for good press.
AAP MP Raghav Chadha was similarly dismissive of the BJP’s accusations, telling reporters ‘… (the BJP) is the richest political party… they should appear on New York Times’ front page daily if someone can buy them’.
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“No news of any BJP leader was ever printed there. BJP calls itself the biggest party in the world. It’s the richest political party. They should appear on New York Times’ front page daily if someone can buy them,” he said.
BJP’s ‘paid news’ attacks
Malviya kicked off the BJP’s charge, tweeting, “How is it New York Times and Khaleej Times carry exactly the same article, word by word, authored by the same person, same pictures (that too of a private school)…”
“Arvind Kejriwal’s best defence is nothing but paid promotion.”
He attached an edited 33-second video, in which Kejriwal says, “America is the world’s richest country and The New York Times is America’s biggest newspaper. It is very difficult to be featured in The New York Times.”
A similar attack was launched by the BJP’s Delhi IT cell head, Punit Agarwal.
On the same article appearing in two publications, he tweeted, “This is not news Arvind Kejriwal. This is called paid advertising. Manish Sisodia will have to go where he deserves to be. That is jail.”
Lekhi said: “(Kejriwal) himself admits it is not easy to ‘have news published’ in The New York Times. How long will you spend public money on ads? chief minister or chief marketer?”
The BJP’s attacks come after the Central Bureau of Investigation this morning raided premises linked to Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia in connection with excise policy row.
READ | What is Delhi excise policy and why is it a flashpoint of BJP-AAP tussle?
‘Best education minister in the world’
Kejriwal responded with a video statement in which he backed Sisodia and dismissed the CBI’s raids as ‘attempts on orders from above (a reference to the central government led by the BJP, and to which the CBI reports)’.
The Delhi chief minister lauded Sisodia’s work as the city’s education minister, whom he called ‘the best in the world’.
“New York Times has published a story on the education model of Delhi and reforms in the Delhi government schools… Sisodia has been declared the best education minister of the world,” he said, adding the raids came a day later.
READ | CBI raids Sisodia’s residence in excise policy case, minister cries foul
Kejriwal – who also has one eye trained on assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh later this year, as well as the 2024 general election – also called on Indians to back his party in their ‘mission’ to make the country ‘No 1’.
The raids came a month after Delhi’s lieutenant governor, VK Saxena, recommended a probe into alleged irregularities and corruption in the implementation of the 2021/22 excise policy.
The CBI registered a case – naming Sisodia (who is also the excise minister) and former excise commissioner Arava Gopi Krishna, as well as several others.