New Delhi: Hindi idioms took centre stage in a political slugfest between the Congress and the ruling BJP on Thursday as Rahul Gandhi cited them to accuse the government of using probe agencies to target critical voices, prompting Union minister Prakash Javadekar to invoke a few sayings to hit back.
A day after income-tax raids at the homes and offices of Bollywood actor Taapsee Pannu, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap and others, Gandhi used the hashtag ”ModiRaidsProFarmers” with his tweet in Hindi to take a dig at the government.
Putting out three popular Hindi idioms — ”Ungliyon pe nachana”, ”Bheegi billi banna” and ”Khisiyani billi khamba noche” — Gandhi stated what he believes they mean in the current context.
In his three-pronged attack, he alleged that the central government makes the income tax department dance to its tunes, friendly media gets cowed down before the Centre and the central government raids those supporting farmers.
Pannu and Kashyap are known to be outspoken in their views on a range of issues.
Hitting back, Javadekar asked Gandhi to recall three more Hindis idioms — ”Sau chuhe khakar billi chali Haj ko”, ”Ungliyon per gine ja sakna” and ”ranga siyar” — to target the Congress.
He used the first saying to mock the Congress for giving lesson in media freedom after stifling it during the Emergency, the second for the current political standing of the party and the third for a “family party” like it lecturing on democracy and “the most communal party” pretending to be secular.
The searches against Pannu and Kashyap as well as his partners who launched the now shuttered production house Phantom Films were carried out across 30 locations in Mumbai and Pune. They were part of a tax evasion probe against Phantom Films, officials said.
Pannu and Kashyap were shooting in Pune and are understood to have been questioned by the tax sleuths as part of the preliminary questioning that takes place during raids.
The raids also covered Reliance Entertainment group CEO Shibhasish Sarkar and some executives of celebrity and talent management companies KWAN and Exceed.
At a press conference, BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia said that the Modi government has given complete freedom to probe agencies, and no one is a Bollywood star or a celebrity in their eyes.
Everybody now gets same treatment while it is the Congress”s character to bend laws to help certain people and spare even criminals if they sing praises of the Gandhi family, he claimed.
If somebody breaks law, evade tax or conspire against the country, then probe agencies will do their job, he said.
The Congress destroys institution when in power and tries to discredit them when in opposition, Bhatia alleged.
Meanwhile, the Congress also cited a media report to accuse the BJP of muzzling free press and trying to control the media narrative.
Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said, “A government communication report has revealed some very disturbing facts. There were five Union cabinet ministers and four ministers of state who were part of this.”
“It is absolutely certain that at the time of coronavirus when the world was standing rock solid with the government and thinking that the prime minister was thinking about our lives, our livelihood, taking us out of this crisis, he was preparing to stab us in the back by compromising the freedom of speech and expression in the country by controlling free press,” Shrinate said in a press conference.
She alleged that some of the suggestions from the report were also included in the Information Technology (Intermediary guidelines and digital media ethics codes) Rules 2021 under the IT Act 2000.
“Some of the suggestions of the committee, were actually made into law, this is a breach of privilege, it is keeping Parliament in the black and I believe that on moral ground both Information and Broadcasting Minister Javadekar and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad should resign,” she said.
In a separate tweet, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi cited another media report on the government”s handling of the border issue with China to attack the Centre.
“GOI believes media management is a substitute for geopolitical strategy. China has already made us pay a price for this. Continuing down this path will be disastrous for India,” he said.