R Rajagopal, the editor of The Telegraph, on Sunday accused Union minister Babul Supriyo of using expletives in a phone conversation about the newspaper’s reporting of the violence at Jadavpur University on Thursday. Rajagopal claimed that he had asked the minister to follow “established processes” and send a letter or a legal notice if he had complaints.
Supriyo, in turn, also accused Rajagopal of using “filthy lingo” against him on the phone call, a claim the editor denied.
The Bharatiya Janata Party leader had on Saturday said that the newspaper had falsely accused him of “elbowing” someone during an altercation with students at Jadavpur University on Thursday. He threatened to sue the newspaper if it did not apologise for its “false biased reporting”.
Two hours later, Supriyo posted another tweet, claiming he had just called Rajagopal on phone to ask for “an amicable small apology”. But, Supriyo claimed, the editor abused him and threatened to write an article against him on Sunday. “His arrogance was amusing,” Supriyo said.
However, in this tweet, Supriyo said the false report he was upset about was an accusation that he had grabbed the shirt of a student, unlike his initial claim involving him elbowing someone. The newspaper’s Friday edition had the front-page headline “Babull at JU”, with a picture of Supriyo grabbing the shirt of a person and a caption saying so.
The Telegraph responds
The Telegraph published a report on Sunday about the phone conversation. The newspaper said it could not find any article that said the minister had elbowed anyone. It also made a note of the change in the minister’s description of the “false” claim within two hours.
According to the newspaper’s account, Supriyo called Rajagopal around 7.50 pm on Saturday, asking for an “amicable apology” for the claim about him elbowing a student. The editor responded that there was no such report in the newspaper and categorically refused to apologise.
“Asked where the newspaper had said the minister had elbowed anyone, Supriyo said it was mentioned along with a front-page picture,” the newspaper said. “The editor said the picture showed the minister grabbing a student by his shirt and that was what the caption had said. The minister changed his stand and said he was offended by the headline ‘Babull at JU’.”
Rajagopal responded by asking the minister what made him assume that the headline was referring to him, since a line below it also mentioned “untamed protesters”. The newspaper claimed that during the phone call, Supriyo also reminded the editor that he was a central minister and asked him if he was a gentleman. “I am not a gentleman, I am a journalist,” Rajagopal was quoted as saying in response. “You may be a central minister but I am also a citizen of this country.”
The newspaper said Rajagopal asked Supriyo to send a legal notice or a letter in the matter. At one point, Supriyo allegedly asked the editor: “Are you sold out? Are you f***ing sold out?” The newspaper said Supriyo used “at least one more” expletive.
In one of his tweets after the phone call, Supriyo had also described Rajagopal’s response to the headline as obnoxious.
On Thursday, Supriyo had claimed that he was heckled when he visited the campus in Kolkata to address a seminar organised by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. He was holed up in the campus for hours, until West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar helped him leave as students kept protesting.
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