Foreign Secretary James Cleverly is the latest from the British government to distance from the controversial BBC documentary on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
During a parliamentary session in the House of Commons this week, Conservative Party MP and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Hindus Bob Blackman raised the issue of the “anti-India propaganda” aired by the broadcaster last month and highlighted the widespread diaspora protests against the BBC over its two-part ‘India: The Modi Question’ over the weekend.
Blackman asked Cleverly: “Following the anti-India propaganda recently broadcast by the BBC, there were widespread protests outside the BBC’s headquarters on Sunday.
“What discussions has my right honourable Friend had with the Indian high commissioner to reassure our Commonwealth partner that this propaganda is not the policy of this government?”
Cleverly responded by referencing his meeting with Indian High Commissioner to the UK Vikram Doraiswami at the India Global Forum’s UK-India Parliamentary Lunch last week and admitted that the series had caused concern in India.
The minister said: “I recently had the opportunity to speak to the Indian High Commissioner on this and a number of other issues. We recognise how this portrayal of the Indian government has played out in India.
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“I made it clear that the BBC is independent in its output, that the UK regards India as an incredibly important international partner and that we will be investing heavily in that relationship in the coming decades.”
The Indian government has condemned the documentary as biased, lacking objectivity and “continuing colonial mindset”.
“It makes us wonder about the purpose of this exercise and the agenda behind it and frankly we do not wish to dignify such efforts,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson had said with reference to the documentary.
Over the weekend, hundreds of British Indians gathered across BBC offices in different UK cities to register their protest against what they termed as the “biased” and “anti-India” documentary.
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They reiterated calls for an independent investigation into what they believe is a “serious breach” of the BBC’s duties as a public service broadcaster.