The screenshots of these chats have been widely shared on social media. On Saturday, #ArnabGate was trending on Twitter
NEW DELHI – The leaked WhatsApp chats between Republic TV founder Arnab Goswami and Partho Dasgupta, the former chief executive officer (CEO) of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), revealed Goswami’s reach to the Prime Minister’s Office, Union Ministers and prior knowledge of the decisions taken by the Central government.
The WhatsApp chats, which consist of over 1,000 pages, are part of the supplementary charge sheet filed by the Mumbai Police in the TRP scam recently.
These leaked chats, which are being termed as Arnab gate, revealed that pro-BJP anchor Goswami knew three days before about the Balakote strike launched by Indian military against Pakistan after Pulwama attack. On 23 February 2019, Goswami told Dasgupta that “something big will happen”.
On this, Dasgupta responded “Dawood?” (referring to underworld Don Dawood Ibrahim). To which, Goswami replied “No sir, Pakistan. Something major will be done”.
Gupta replied: “It’s good for big man in this season. He will sweep polls then”. Gupta then asked: “Strike or bigger”. Goswami replied: “Bigger than a normal strike. And also at the same time something major on Kashmir. On Pakistan, the government is confident of striking in a way that people will be elated”.
The Balakote airstrike was carried out on 26 February 2019 which had heightened tension between India and Pakistan, two nuclear armed countries.
In the chats, Goswami also talks about the use of Pulwama terror attack to spike his channel’s TRP.
“Sir 20 min ahead on the biggest terrorist attack of the year in Kashmir… only, only channel with a group presence,” said Goswami on 14 February 2019 at 5:41 PM. To which Dasgupta asked: “Modi happened yesterday?” Goswami said: “Have planned some buildup thing after we spoke. Idea to gain massive spike. So used his speech yesterday and pushed it by a bit”.
“This attack, we have won like crazy,” said Goswami.
In the Pulwama attack on 14 February 2019, over 40 Indian soldiers were killed after they were attacked by a vehicle-borne suicide bomber.
The chats between Goswami and Dasgupta, both were colleagues at the Times Group, also revealed that Goswami was very close to Smriti Irani, who was Information and Broadcasting Minister in the first term of Modi government. Goswami referred to Irani as ‘Great friend’ in his chats with Dasgupta. Dasgupta asked him to arrange a meeting with Irani and take up some issues with her.
The chats also revealed that Rajayavardhan Rathore, who was Minister of State for Broadcasting and Information in 2017, had kept aside a complaint against the Republic TV.
“Apparently, there is some complain about Republic in the Ministry”, said Dasgupta. To which, Arnab said: “About the dish FTA thing? Rathore told me and said, He’s keeping it aside”.
In their chats, Arnab talked about the rival channels like Times Now and India Today and talked about journalists such as India Today anchor Rajdeep Sardesai (“he is losing his job”), Times of India editor Sagarika Ghose (“she is rotting in Times”), India Today owner Aroon Purie (“part of a Cong propaganda machine”), journalist Ashok Malik (“such a hypocrite”), India TV founder Rajat Sharma (an “utter fool” with a “sub-standard channel”), Times Now anchors Rahul Shivshankar (“an ass”), Navika (Kachra) and business journalists (“all bloody bootlickers”).
Goswami thanked Dasgupta for helping him to bring out from the NDTV where Goswami used to work. Dasgupta is also seen asking Goswami to help him become media advisor to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Dasgupta is currently in jail in the TRP scam case. In the charge sheet, he has been named as prime accused in the case. According to The Wire, Goswami has not been named as accused in the case even though the charge sheet focused on the WhatsApp chats between Goswami and Dasgupta.
On Saturday, Dasgupta was admitted to the ICU ward of JJ hospital after his sugar level spiked.
The screenshots of these chats have been widely shared on social media. On Saturday, #ArnabGate was trending on Twitter.
Reacting to these chats, Congress spokesperson Abishek Manu Singhvi accused the Central government of leaking highly confidential information.
“Arnab’s chats dated 23.02.2019 refer to sharing of Intel re: action along the Pak border. It means someone very senior in Govt is leaking highly confidential info which may endanger the lives of our soldiers & so that mercenary considerations can add to TRPs,” tweeted Singhvi.
Arnab’s chats dated 23.02.2019 refer to sharing of Intel re: action along the Pak border. It means someone very senior in Govt is leaking highly confidential info which may endanger the lives of our soldiers & so that mercenary considerations can add to TRPs.
— Abhishek Singhvi (@DrAMSinghvi) January 16, 2021