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Editors Guild slams BJP's IT cell head for 'offensive' online poll on journalist
The Editors Guild of India slammed BJP's IT cell head Amit Malviya on Saturday for running an "offensive" online poll on journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, calling for its withdrawal and urging the ruling party to strongly caution its functionary over the matter.
Malviya conducted a poll on his Twitter handle on Friday, asking whether "Rajdeep Sardesai should handle PR for ISIS." He gave four options for Twitter users to vote -- "agree", "strongly agree", "disagree" and "he is irrelevant".
In a statement, the Editors Guild said it had noted with deep dismay the "deplorable act" of Malviya, the head of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) information technology cell, of conducting an offensive, McCarthyist social media "poll" on Sardesai.
"The poll on Twitter was not only tasteless, it also questioned the integrity and patriotism of Mr Sardesai, who is a journalist of standing and a former President of the Editors Guild of India," it said.
The Twitter poll by the national head of the BJP's IT cell also raised questions on the party's commitment to healthy debates and dissent, without allowing disagreement to degenerate into abuse, it added.
The guild urged Malviya to immediately withdraw the so-called Twitter poll and the BJP to caution him strongly.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor also hit out at the "poll", saying this kind of an exercise was a disgrace, coming from a spokesperson of a "supposedly" national party. "But the nation has realised they are the foremost anti-national party. Incapable of appreciating anyone but yes-men," the former Union minister wrote on Twitter.
Sardesai said he was grateful to the Editors Guild and fellow journalists for their support.
"Let me reiterate: I bear zero ill will to Amit Malviya: really do hope we can end toxic name calling and libel. Time for samvaad: I will be sending a copy of my new book to Mr Malviya as a NY gift!" he said in a tweet.
Earlier, in response to Malviya's "poll", the journalist had wrote on Twitter: "My friend, carry on with this brazenly slanderous and incendiary campaign. My new year resolution is to stay calm! Have a peaceful and happy new year.. may spirit of India shine bright!"
On Friday, Sardesai had tweeted, saying, "At every anti CAA rally, I have spotted only the tricolor and pics of Mahatma Gandhi.. at pro CAA rallies, the saffron flag is seen along with the tricolour.. think about it.. have a good Friday."
To this, Malviya had responded by saying when one saw imaginary tricolours and pictures of the Mahatma at protests cheered and led by Islamist slogans, leading to violence, destruction of public property and temples, they must be called out for their bigotry.
In the Twitter "poll" conducted by Malviya, 33 per cent voted for "disagree", while 28 per cent voted for "strongly agree", 26 per cent for "agree" and 12 per cent for "he is irrelevant".