Journalists and office bearers of several journalist associations registered their protest against Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai, condemning his repeated provocations and defamatory remarks against them. The journalists gathered at Valluvar Kottam in Chennai on January 25 following Annamalai’s derogatory remarks against senior television journalist Karthigaichelvan of News 18.
Speaking at the protest, N Ram, Director of The Hindu Group Publishing Private Limited, expressed solidarity with the journalist and said that Annamalai was a repeat offender. He stated that the affected journalist should file a criminal defamation case against the BJP leader and proposed that the politician “should not be given publicity.”
“Veteran BJP leaders such as the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, LK Advani and Prime Minister Narendra Modi would not make the kind of remarks that Annamalai has made. Though former Tamil Nadu Chief Ministers M Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa had issues with the way the press reported sometimes, they had never made such derogatory remarks,” he added.
Karthigaichelvan had recently interviewed Tamil Nadu Minister of Sports and Youth Welfare Udhayanidhi Stalin. Alleging that the journalist was soft on Udhayanidhi, Annamalai made a sexual remark.
Urging journalists to boycott Annamalai for his derogatory remarks R Vijaya Sankar, Group Editor of ‘The AIDEM’ – a collective of media professionals and former Frontline editor said, “Only a bigoted Modi bhakt would equate TN BJP leader Annamalai’s obscene remarks against journalists with Dinamalar’s misleading report on a non-existing ban in Ram temple related pujas in TN. The media should boycott Annamalai,” he said.
Nakkheeran Editor RR Gopal said the media house has decided to boycott the BJP leader. He claimed that Annamalai was attempting to use the ‘divide and rule’ tactic against the media.
Recalling the abusive remarks made by the retired Chief of Army Staff General VK Singh against journalists, senior journalist AS Panneerselvan said that the BJP was rewarding its functionaries who made such derogatory comments against the media.
M Gunasekaran, Editor-in-Chief of Sun News, said senior BJP leaders such as Jharkhand Governor CP Radhakrishnan and BJP women’s wing president Vanathi Srinivasan would not endorse such derogatory remarks.
In response to the protest, Annamalai alleged that the journalists are behaving like DMK spokespersons. “The first layer of the DMK onion, as we popularly know it, is activated & I understand that they are assembling today to protest against me. Today’s protest is the 3rd such protest carried out by this group against me in the last year & I consider it a badge of honour. Here are a few samples where the 1st layer forgets that they are a journalist & behaves more like a DMK spokesperson. A few DMK underlings in the garb of journalists cannot decide & dictate the narratives in TN anymore. I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with journalists who put their lives at risk to report the uncomfortable truth & at the same time, I despise those who act as propaganda machinery to please the ruling DMK Govt. They are a shame to their profession!”