A media advisory sent to senior Indian journalists by the office of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged the media to question the federal opposition party Congress over its intense criticism of the government's response to the COVID pandemic.
“These are testing times for the nation. These are times when everyone needs to come together to fight the virus. But what we are seeing in the country is a shameful display of arrogance, petty politics and lies by the Gandhi family,” reads the message.
— Dushyant (@atti_cus) April 21, 2021
— Aakar Patel (@Aakar__Patel) April 21, 2021
The "Gandhi family" refers to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, her son, and key Indian parliamentarian Rahul Gandhi and her daughter, Priyanka Gandhi, who is the general secretary of the organisation.
“They take no accountability for the sorry state of affairs in Congress-ruled states,” it adds.
The text from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) blames the media for not being able to "speak truth to the opposition," although it was relentless in questioning the government. It further calls on the media to do some “soul searching.”
"The sad part is that the media which speaks truth to power, is not able to speak truth to the opposition. They just keep amplifying their lies and misinformation. No fact check, no assessment of their claims is done,” reads the message, as it points out that Prime Minister Modi’s government was putting its best foot forward in combating the ongoing COVID pandemic.
The media advisory from the PMO has created furore on the social media, with several people lamenting that the Prime Minister’s office was busy with “headline management” when the South Asian nation was grappling with over 200,000 new infections on a daily basis and facing acute shortages of life-saving drugs and oxygen among other COVID-related supplies.
— Hasiba | حسيبة 🌈 (@HasibaAmin) April 21, 2021
Hasiba Amin, a leader from the Congress party, wondered if a press conference by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) national spokesperson Sambit Patra on Wednesday afternoon was connected to the advisory in some way.
“When things shouldn't be politicised, the Congress Party, especially the Gandhi family, is doing politics. Priyanka Gandhi gives an interview complaining about shortage of oxygen and medicines. Rahul Gandhi tweets. The nation is watching how they have been criticising the government & it will give them a befitting reply. The arrogance of the Gandhi family is being on full display in front of everyone,” said Patra.
The BJP spokesperson also questioned why the federal opposition was keeping silent on the situation prevailing in states such as Maharashtra, which has recorded the highest number of infections among all Indian states.
Maharashtra is ruled by an opposition alliance-led by Shiv Sena, with the Congress and National Congress Party as alliance partners.