NEW DELHI: The New York Times story on Delhi's education system was based on "an impartial and on-the-ground reporting", the American newspaper said on Friday, rejecting the paid news charge.
The report triggered a war of words between the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party after the CBI raided the residence of Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who also hold the education and excise portfolios, on Friday in connection with alleged irregularities in the framing and implementation of the AAP's government's excise policy.
The AAP said the Narendra Modi government sent the CBI to Sisodia's home after The New York Times carried a positive story on the Delhi model of education, and the BJP hit back saying it was a "paid" article.
Requested for a clarification on the matter, the NYT's external communications director Nicole Tylor told PTI in an email, "Our report about efforts to improve Delhi's education system is based on impartial, on-the-ground reporting."
She said education is an issue that The New York Times has covered over many years.
"Journalism from The New York Times is always independent, free from political or advertiser influence," she added.
On the charge that the same story was also published by the Khaleej Times, Tylor clarified, "Other news outlets routinely license and republish our coverage."
On August 18, The New York Times published the story, titled 'Our children are worth it', in the front page of its international edition, highlighting the "broader transformation of Delhi's education system" during the Aam Aadmi Party regime and noting that "the overhaul of the public schools in the capital of India has students clamouring to enroll".
Along with the story, the NYT published a picture of Sisodia with three girl students of Delhi government schools, with the caption, "Manish Sisodia, the Delhi education minister, started the overhaul by making surprise visits to schools. Now other states in India are pushing to adopt the Delhi model."
The BJP Friday used Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal "It is very difficult to get a news published in the New York Times" remark to dub as "paid" the story on his government's education model with a photograph of deputy Manish Sisodia appearing in the American newspaper.
Kejriwal came under fire from BJP MPs over what appeared to be a slip of tongue while he was lauding his Sisodia being featured on the front page of New York Times.
The BJP MPs alleged the story to be a "paid" one but the AAP hit back saying it was a "stupid" claim.
"It is very difficult to get a news published in the New York Times which is the biggest news paper of the most powerful country of the world," Kejriwal said and immediately corrected himself.
"It is very difficult for a story to be published in the New York Times. Presidents, Prime Minister of every country in the world are desperate for their names and photos to appear on front page of NYT," he hastened to add.
Kejriwal said the NYT carrying a story on Delhi government's education model with a photo of Sisodia on its front page was in a way a declaration that Sisodia was the best education minister in the world.
Latching on to this slip of tongue, Union minister Meenakshi Lekhi tweeted "Chor Ki Dadhi Mein Tinka" (guilty conscience needs no accuser).
North East Delhi BJP MP Manoj Tiwari too cited the story alleging AAP was "wasting" public money on publicity.
"Caught here too. New York Times and Khaleej Times same word to word. Same author also. Shameless AAP is wasting money of Delhi public for publishing its photos by paying money," Tiwari tweeted in Hindi.
The NYT runs a syndicate service and its stories are carried by publications in different countries.
West Delhi BJP MP Parvesh Verma claimed that the story carried the photo of a private school and not one run by Delhi government.
The AAP said "it is outrightly funny and stupid that the BJP is claiming the NYT story to be a paid article. Anyone working in the media can look at an article and gauge if it is paid or not."
The journalist who did this story had formally requested for an interview and photos on the same in March this year.
Being a longform print, they conducted a month long exercise over it leading them to churn out stories like that of a student Pradeep Paswan, it said in a reaction over the BJP's claims.
Sisodia who holds multiple portfolio including education and excise departments came under the eye of a storm as CBI raided his residence in connection with alleged irregularities in execution of Excise Policy 2021-22.