Hours after the Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday claimed that an article in The New York Times on Delhi’s education system is “paid promotion”, the American newspaper refuted the allegations saying it was completely unbiased.

“Our report about efforts to improve Delhi’s education system is based on impartial, on-the-ground reporting,” Nicole Tylor, the external communications director of The New York Times, told PTI.

Education is an issue that the newspaper has covered for many years, she said. “Journalism from The New York Times is always independent, free from political or advertiser influence,” Tylor added.

The New York Times report was first published online on August 16 and in the front page of its international edition on August 18.

The report praised the ruling Aam Aadmi Party for overhauling the education system in the national capital. It particularly mentioned Aam Aadmi Party leader Manish Sisodia for his role in transforming government-run schools since 2015 and stated that “the overhaul of the public schools in the capital of India has students clamouring to enroll”.

On Friday, the Central Bureau of Investigation searched Sisodia’s home, as well as 20 other locations, in a case related to alleged irregularities in the new excise policy.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the raids took place days after The New York Times published the article. “The biggest newspaper wrote about Delhi’s education revolution and carried Sisodia’s photograph also,” Kejriwal said in a virtual address.

Kejriwal also shared a clipping of the front page story on his Twitter account.

The BJP, however, claimed that the article is a “paid promotion”.

“How is it that New York Times and Khaleej Times carry exactly the same article, word by word, authored by the same person, same pictures [that too of a private school] on Delhi’s non-existent education model?” the party’s IT cell chief Amit Malviya wrote on Twitter. “Arvind Kejriwal’s best defence is nothing but paid promotion.”

BJP leader Parvesh Varma held a conference and showed copies of the article published in both the newspapers, NDTV reported.

“This is a photo of both the newspapers,” he said. “Both the newspapers have one reporter, the article is the same, word-to-word, the same six pictures are in both. Does that ever happen?”

Tylor pointed out that other publications routinely license and republish The New York Times content.

The Aam Aadmi Party also clarified that the Khaleej Times article is syndicated and credits The New York Times. Under news syndication services, articles can be reused through a paid subscription.

“It is laughable,” said Aam Aadmi Party MP Raghav Chadha while reacting to the paid news charge. “No news of any BJP leader was ever printed there. BJP calls itself the biggest party in the world. It’s the richest political party. They should appear on New York Times’ front page daily if someone can buy them.”

Aam Aadmi Party leader Saurabh Bharadwaj challenged the BJP to get an article published in The New York Times. “I challenge them, use whatever money you have, whatever power you have,” he said.

Aam Aadmi Party MLA Atishi said “even making false allegations takes some homework”.

Journalists also took to Twitter to educate the BJP on what syndication means.