Almost exactly a year after Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV invited the ire of many Malayalis for its allegedly biased coverage of the state, Goswami and online Malayalis are at it again — this time over a ‘shameful’ remark over those who accuse the BJP-led central government of blocking foreign aid destined for the flood-hit state.
The Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday that it would not accept money from foreign governments to be channeled to relief work in Kerala, angering many Malayalis who feel it to be an unfair restriction.
Countries such as the UAE, Thailand, Maldives and Qatar have expressed an interest in contributing funds to help with the relief and reconstruction efforts in the flood-ravaged state.
However, the UPA government headed by Manmohan Singh had taken a stand against accepting foreign aid after the 2004 tsunami, possibly due to the fear that taking foreign aid could help foreign governments build up goodwill among Indians at the cost of the Indian government.
The latest flare-up comes after Kerala Chief Minister said the UAE government had expressed a willingness to donate $100 million towards the relief and rebuilding efforts of Kerala.
That money would have contributed to the estimated Rs 20,000 cr needed to repair and rebuild after floods caused heavy damages last week.
The central government has so far allocated Rs 600 cr, while another Rs 500 cr or so has been raised by the chief minister’s relief fund.
Not surprisingly, the move to say no to the aid from the UAE — with which Keralites have had relationships for over a thousand years — has irritated many Malayalis.
In this context, Arnab Goswami, conducted a debate on his channel about the whole controversy. In his introduction to the debate, he called people who are criticizing the Indian government in this regard ‘anti-national’, ‘paid agents’ and ‘shameless’.
“What a shame, what a conspiracy, what a cheap act. How anti-national can you get? How much hate, how much malice,” he said in a video subsequently uploaded to Facebook. “But most of all, let me tell you.. this group is shameless, it is the most shameless bunch of Indians I have ever seen.
“They have gone around spreading the lie religiously. I don’t know what they get for it, whether they get paid for it. Do they get money for abusing their own country? Are they part of a group? Who are they funded by? The point is that it is a conspiracy to malign India,” he said.
However, Goswami was generous enough to admit that he did not know the source of the ‘lie’ about the promised millions.
The video has drawn angry comments from Keralites on Facebook and Twitter. Going by a cursory look at the comments under the video, nearly all the 11,000 comments (as of 10:30 PM, Saturday) are critical of Goswami.
New comments were pouring in at the rate of around 2,000 per hour. Irate users did not spare Goswami’s personal Facebook page either.
This is the second time that Malayalis and the channel — funded by a Malayali Rajeev Chandrasekhar among others — have had an online falling out.
Last year, the then-newly launched channel had found itself at the center of a social media war after many Malayalis took it upon themselves to ‘avenge’ the “negative publicity” their state got by down-rating the channel.
You can watch the video here: https://www.facebook.com/RepublicWorld/videos/1809779862433496/