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'Take journalists to dhabas for tea': Audio clip of state BJP chief Bawankule's advice to partymen lands him in soup

The audio is from an event in Ahmednagar district where Bawankule addressed the party workers which has now gone viral on social media platforms.
Last Updated : 25 September 2023, 19:18 IST
Last Updated : 25 September 2023, 19:18 IST

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A audio clip of state BJP President Chandrashekhar Bawankule asking party leaders and workers to take journalists to dhabas and take care of them to avoid negative publicity in the run up to the 2024 Lok Sabha polls has snowballed into a major political issue in Maharashtra with the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi slamming the former minister even as journalists bodies sought an apology from him.

The audio is from an event in Ahmednagar district where Bawankule addressed the party workers which has now gone viral on social media platforms.

While the BJP was not in a position to deny the audio clip, the leaders of the saffron party said that it was misconstrued. 

Condemning the statement, the Mantralaya ani Vidhimandal Vartahar Sangh has sought an apology from the state BJP chief. 

In the viral audio clip, Bawankule could he heard saying - “There are small-time video journalists running news portals and residing in your booth areas sometimes present a minor incident as if something big has happened…prepare a list of such nuisance-creating journalists, including those from the electronic media or print, and invite them for a cup of tea to dhabas so that they would not write anything against us ahead of Maha Vijay 2024. You know what I mean by inviting them for a cup of tea…if there are some shortcomings (BJP MP) Dr Sujay Vikhe Patil is there… take them to dhabas. Treat them well and ensure no negative news comes out against us. There should be positive news about us. Protect your own booths first.” 

After the MVA comprising Congress, Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT) and Sharad Pawar-led NCP slammed him, Bawankule came out with a clarification. 

“The statement has been misconstrued…journalists are important..what I meant was to take their feedback,” he said.

Coming to his defence, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said: “There is no need to interpret his comments in any other way. At times when you are interacting with party workers some things are conveyed in a lighter vein…here is no need to create a controversy out of it.” 

“Our democracy has four pillars…among them the Press plays a major role…you cannot suppress the voice of journalists,” said Baramati MP and NCP Working President Supriya Sule. 

Leader of the Opposition in Assembly Vijay Wadettiwar and his counterpart in Council Ambadas Danve hit out at the BJP and Bawankule.

“The Congress has given due importance to journalists but the BJP made them look cheap…they want to suppress the media,” said state Congress President Nana Patole. 

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Published 25 September 2023, 19:18 IST

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