Piyush Goyal has attracted the wrath of people online after he turned around a simple and frankly relevant question, into something else entirely.
To give context to matter, last week Union Minister Piyush Goyal, attended the India Today Conclave 2019 in New Delhi. At the event, he spoke at a session with Rahul Kanwal, journalist and it was here that Kanwal asked something that irked the minister.
The full question asked by Kanwal was on the recent Balakot attacks that were made by the Indian Air Force. He asked,
“There are two different narratives that are at play. One is that we struck with immense precision, we did significant damage, numbers to the tune of 300-400 terrorists being killed are being bandied about, the Air Force itself hasn’t confirmed, international media is being taken to the zone where the missiles fell. They are saying only 1 person was injured, that the missiles that we threw fell into open forests.
Do you believe this then puts some pressure on India to convince the world, and the public and the opposition that indeed the mission was successful?”
(The point in question starts from the 2.38 time stamp.)
This is referring to the airstrike that the Indian Air Force carried out on 26th February, crossing the Line of Control (LOC) and struck the alleged terrorist training camps of the terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed.
This was in retaliation to the Pulwama attacks where as many as 40 CRPF personnel were killed.
After the attack, there has been a lot of confusion, as to what the reality is, since media to that extent is giving two views on this. One where India did destroy the camps, while the other is saying that no significant damage happened and only a few trees were blown up.
In light of that, Rahul Kanwal’s question makes sense, in order to clear up the situation.
However, Piyush Goyal took some kind of offence to it, and started ranting about how this clearly meant that the journalist was belittling their own army and listening to the opposite side.
First of all he turned around the question to Kanwal itself, and asked, “Are you convinced first?” and added that, “Are you a part of this narrative that is trying to belittle our armed forces?”
When Rahul said it was his job as a journalist to ask such questions, Goyal stated that, “Are you questioning our armed forces and what they have said? I have no answer, I’ve not been there, I was not the pilots who was firing at Pakistan, I was not the pilot taking revenge. but if you have any questions and you suspect our armed forces have not done their job right, I actually feel that it’s a very very sorry position for a senior journalists like you coming from a very reputed media house where I’m sitting here today, even willing to consider that kind of a narrative.”
It was his use of phrases like, “people who attacked Pakistan”, “who went across the LOC and protected India’s unity and integrity” and such to invoke some kind of emotion that did not sit well with me.
Rahul Kanwal then retaliated with an apt comeback of how he was an army officer’s son and that, “Minister, neither me nor anybody else sitting here needs any lesson in nationalism and patriotism from you, or from anybody else.”
Kanwal then said how wanting a discussion on this very complicated matter does not mean they are anti-national, to which Piyush Goyal commented on how this is not believing what the army and air force is saying.
To this instantly Rahul stated how that was the exact issue, that the army and Air Force have not said anything on this matter. As per him, Sambit Patra from BJP first mentioned the number of terrorists that were taken down in the attack.
And Rahul is correct here, the Indian Air Force has not given any number, the only thing they confirmed was that an attack happened.
In fact, in a press conference on 4th March, Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa said that, “Air Force is not in a position to clarify how many people were inside. We don’t count human casualties. We count what targets we have hit or not hit.”
It was also stated that the government will be clearing up the number of causalities. Thus, Rahul’s question to the minister makes even more sense, since the Air Force has passed on the baton to the govt.
Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa on air strikes: IAF is not in a postilion to clarify the number of casualties. The government will clarify that. We don't count human casualties, we count what targets we have hit or not. pic.twitter.com/Ji3Z6JqReB— ANI (@ANI) March 4, 2019
In fact, even Twitter was outraged at the way Mr. Goyal got so angry and tried to divert from the question asked by making it more of a political thing.
Even if @rahulkanwal was not the son of a decorated army officer and military expert, his questions are valid. His job is to ask questions. In a democracy, if a journalist can't ask questions of a person in power, then are we a democracy?— Sachin Kalbag (@SachinKalbag) March 5, 2019
Larger questions at play here. https://t.co/vVIkAxhMcG
Firm questioning by @rahulkanwal, amidst ridiculous waffling and attempted rabble rousing by a senior Cabinet Minister. Audience applauds his answer to the minister: "Neither me nor anybody else wants any lesson in nationalism from you…" Rare. Watch.https://t.co/dE1cwko5ul— Tony Joseph (@tjoseph0010) March 5, 2019
While journalists have been hearing this tone from ministers for some time now, who want to equate all questions to govt as a questioning of nationhood and armed forces, refreshing to hear the cool headed response from @rahulkanwal #nomorepatriotismcertificates https://t.co/MgViwzbjMu— Suhasini Haidar (@suhasinih) March 5, 2019
Journos should note down this rule of #NewIndia— Akash Banerjee (@akashbanerjee) March 4, 2019
Even a valid question to a senior mantri – put forward in a respectful manner – will be responded with personal barbs / name calling / ridicule etc.
Wonder how @rahulkanwal kept his cool#respect
Full Vid- https://t.co/sYZZXB6W8V pic.twitter.com/zkKO0hzntg
Great on you @rahulkanwal. It is sickening to watch Piyush Goyal question the patriotism of India's journalists–especially the son of one of India's finest Army officers and military minds–with the implication that one is doing Pakistan's bidding. Absolutely sickening. https://t.co/hnk63L0w2S— Vipin Narang (@NarangVipin) March 4, 2019
Do you think Piyush Goyal was unnecessarily taking offence to a very basic question? Was Rahul’s comeback appropriate in light of the situation? Let us know what you think of this in the comments below.
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