Colonial mindset, propaganda piece: MEA reacts to BBC documentary

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak defends PM Narendra Modi

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By: Urvashi Khona | NEW DELHI
Updated: 19 January, 2023 8:27 pm IST
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has come down heavily on the BBC documentary ‘India: The Modi question’. The documentary is based on the 2002 Gujarat riots and Prime Minister Modi’s interactions with India’s minorities.

During MEA’s weekly briefing, spokesperson Arindam Bagchi described the movie as a propaganda piece that shows colonial bias. “Let me just make it very clear that we think this is a propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative. The bias, the lack of objectivity and frankly, a continuing colonial mindset are blatantly visible,” Bagchi said.

“If anything, this film or documentary is a reflection on the agency and individuals that are peddling this narrative again. It makes us wonder about the purpose of this exercise and the agenda behind it and frankly, we do not wish to dignify such efforts,” the MEA spokesperson.

Amid controversy surrounding the documentary, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak distanced himself from the BBC series. PM Sunak also defended PM Modi, saying he “doesn’t agree with the characterisation” of his Indian counterpart.

“The UK government’s position on this has been clear and long-standing and hasn’t changed. Of course, we do not tolerate persecution in any form. But I am not sure I agree at all with the characterisation that the honourable gentleman has put forward,” PM Sunak said while replying to comments by Pakistan-origin MP Imran Hussain in the British Parliament.

The first part of the documentary cites an inquiry conducted by the UK government into the 2002 Gujarat riots, which concluded that Modi, who was chief minister of the state at the time, was “directly responsible”.

MEA has questioned the agenda and purpose behind it. Bagchi also pointed out that the documentary has not been aired in India, “Do note that this has not been screened in India.”

Further reacting to reported remarks made by former UK Secretary Jack Straw in the documentary series, Bagchi said, “He (Jack Straw) seems to be referring to some internal UK report. “I can’t comment on the UK government report cited in the BBC documentary.”

Questioning how diplomats can carry out investigations in another country, Bagchi reiterated that the Government of India believes the BBC documentary on PM Modi is the product of “colonial bias”.

“It’s a 20-year-old report. Why would we jump on it now? Just because Jack says it, how do they lend it legitimacy? There is a reason why we use the colonial mindset. We don’t use words loosely. What inquiry they were diplomats there…investigation, are they ruling the country?” Bagchi said.

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