"PM MODI HAS BEEN WORKING HARD; DON'T GET TRAPPED IN THE OPPOSITION'S BARBS", the capitalised headline reverberated across Twitter on Tuesday, as several Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, including a few sitting Ministers, shared a propaganda piece by The Daily Guardian, to defend Prime Minister Narendra Modi against an onslaught of criticism by national and international news media for the disastrous second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a brutal second wave ravaged India, turning it into one of the worst affected countries in the world, Modi and his administration became the centre of criticism by many. International media outlets like The Guardian, The Washington Post, Time magazine and The Australian left no stone unturned in putting the onus on the Modi administration for failing to take the necessary precautions, and allowing potential super-spreader mass gatherings that eventually enabled the second wave to culminate to a disastrous scale.
Back home, while some of the top media outlets in India failed to hold the government accountable, online news media and social media put their cross hairs on the central government, demanding accountability for lack of actions to halt the second wave.
Manage Media, Fight Criticism
During the second wave, the Modi administration has made several consistent efforts to fight criticism. It has taken steps to censor tweets that were critical of the government's efforts in fighting the pandemic,and the Indian High Commission to Australia had called the piece by the Australian as slander, and requested the editors to take the article down. The BJP-led government in Uttar Pradesh had also threatened to seize people's property for 'spreading rumours' about shortage of oxygen.
On Tuesday, many sitting Union Ministers and other BJP leaders shared the article by The Daily Guardian, that fiercely defended the administration and questioned the criticism it has faced.
The article was shared by BJP MP Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur, Minister of State of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and Minister of State in the Ministry of Minority Affairs of India Kiren Rijiju, BJP IT Cell head Amit Malviya, Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy, former BJP MLA Archana Chitnis, former Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das, and Minister of Coal, Mines and Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi.
How reliable is the article and the publication?
The opinion piece was written by Sudesh Verma, a BJP spokesperson and a convener for the Media Relations Department of the BJP. Furthermore, The Daily Guardian is owned by ITV Network - which also own's The Sunday Guardian and NewsX.
BOOM had fact checked sibling media outlet Sunday Guardian (launched by former Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar) in 2018, when it called the abduction, gangrape and murder of an 8-year-old in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua as fake.
The Daily Guardian's 'mega launch' was covered by NewsX, in which BJP leader Kirit Somaya was seen congratulating the network.
A quick look through the opinion pieces published by the publication's website would make apparent its consistent support for the Modi administration - the articles frequently came in its defence, and attacked any counter-opinions or criticism.
This would suggest that the viral article in question is a propaganda piece, rather than a news article.
Hindi news outlet Aaj Tak also covered the article by The Daily Guardian, where it highlighted the social media efforts by BJP leaders to defend Modi. However, in a tweet made earlier by the news outlet to share their coverage of the article, it misleadingly called it an article by a 'Philippines-based English website'.
Updated On: 2021-06-10T12:27:48+05:30