Nearly a week after the internationally reputed magazine TIME ran a cover story on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, terming him ‘Divider-in-chief’, the man in question has responded to the magazine having called him so.
The story, written by novelist and journalist Aatish Taseer, questioned if the world's largest democracy could "endure another five years of a Modi government."
According to NDTV, PM Modi in response, on Friday, 17 May, reportedly said:
"“TIME magazine is foreign, the writer has also said he comes from a Pakistani political family. That is enough for his credibility.”"
The TIME story also makes references to the attacks on minorities by lynch mobs, Modi's record on women’s issues, the demonetisation move, Sadhvi Pragya Thakur’s candidacy, among others.
Controversy Over Taseer’s Nationality, Mother Tavleen Singh Rubbishes Claims
Soon after the article, a controversy had erupted on social media and elsewhere, with several BJP supporters, including members of the party, alleging that Taseer was a Pakistani.
In fact, BJP Spokesperson Sambit Patra had on 11 May said a “Pakistani writer is trying to malign the image of PM Modi and Rahul Gandhi is tweeting about it.”
On 13 May, actor Kabir Bedi took to Twitter to insinuate the same, with his tweet reading:
How can the World’s Most Famous Magazine Endorse— KABIR BEDI (@iKabirBedi) May 10, 2019
such a Blatantly Biased Attack on Prime Minister Modi by a Pakistani while India’s elections are still going on? https://t.co/fffkeI87Xe
Taseer’s mother and veteran journalist Tavleen Singh, who had stayed away from the issue, immediately responded to Bedi’s tweet and said, “Kabir disagree with what he writes. But you know that he isn’t Pakistani.”
Aatish Taseer’s father Salman Taseer was the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab, and was assassinated for opposing the country’s blasphemy laws in 2011.
Meanwhile, speaking to senior journalist Barkha Dutt on Tiranga TV, Taseer had responded to the jibe, stating that no one was “more delighted” to see the rise of Modi than Pakistan.
"“I was recently in Pakistan, reporting for Vanity Fair. One of the things I noticed is that the Pakistanis are delighted with the idea of Modi. Nobody is a living validation of the two nation theory more than this man.”"
Incidentally, Taseer was a Modi supporter in 2014, who was once hopeful that the prime minister will do “some economic good.”
Meanwhile, Taseer’s Wikipedia page was also edited to state that he was the “PR manager for the Congress Party.” It was later restored to its original version.
TIME’s Balancing Act
Besides the controversial cover story, the same issue also carried another piece on the Prime Minister, titled ‘Modi, the reformer’, by Ian Bremmer.
Notably, in May 2015, TIME had carried another cover story on PM Modi, titled ‘Why Modi Matters’. It was accompanied by an interview with the PM and carried the tagline “The world needs India to step up as a global power. One year in, can Prime Minister Narendra Modi deliver?”
(With inputs from NDTV.)
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