By NL Team

Politicians tend to lead a charmed life on Indian news channels. There’s more than enough space to spout random theories, deliver hate speech, and say what you like without being held accountable.

Which is why BJP national spokesperson Gopal Agarwal might have had a rude shock on Tuesday when he appeared on BBC show Newsnight.

“Why are you spending your time shutting down social media posts instead of dealing with the crisis?” host Emily Maitlis asked Agarwal bluntly, talking about how the government had tweets that criticised India’s Covid crisis removed.

Agarwal’s response was that Maitlis’s information was “completely incorrect”, saying that some Twitter handles which did not “originate in India” were posting the exact same sentences.

Maitlis asked, “You’re a democracy. You’re the biggest democracy in the world. You can handle criticism, can’t you?” Agarwal said that the government took action on Twitter handles and “toolkit instruments” that are “not conducive to current national interest and are completely based on fake news and with an agenda”.

But Maitlis didn’t back down. “Let me ask you something very simple,” she said. “Is it unpatriotic to criticise the Indian government? For the people in your country, to criticise the Indian government and what prime minister Modi is doing, is it unpatriotic if they write these things on Twitter?…Multiple people are dying.”

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