Posts Tagged ‘Congress Party’

Watching some of the big names of the Indian media making a fool of themselves today reminds me of that old fable of the emperor’s new clothes. I didn’t think they would be hoist on their own petard so easily, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not just cornered the opposition, specifically the Gandhis and the Congress Party when he announced the nomination of Ram Nath Kovind, but the mainstream media (MSM) as well.

How else do you explain the way the MSM was made to look like utter idiots when the Bharatiya Janata Party announced Kovind as its nominee? First, they tried to bluster their way through with the “Kovind who?” and “Everyone’s googling Kovind” stunt. That fell flat because it turned out that not only was Kovind the Governor of Bihar, a two-term Rajya Sabha MP, a government counsel for many years, but he had also represented India at the United Nations. Then they mentioned the D word, about how Modi was using Kovind’s Dalit background to woo the community, but that didn’t cut ice either.

Nothing could be more apt than this tweet from a Biju Janata Dal MP who had worked with Kovind in pointing to the ignorance and condescension displayed by the MSM.

When that failed, they made disparaging comparisons between Kovind and Pratibha Patil who Sonia Gandhi had anointed president. Their point was that Kovind was a worse choice than Patil. Obviously, that did not matter when they were accepting hospitality and awards from President Patil.

Anyway, thanks to social media, the MSM found that its feigned ignorance of Kovind had been exposed. But that didn’t stop them. They went a step ahead and pulled out a 12-year-old piece where Kovind made his views known on the caste system and his views on Dalits and Christians.

Comparing the caste system to the trade guilds in feudal Europe (in that certain groups performed specific jobs), he added that under the caste system, persons acquire their trade at birth, while the guilds allowed job mobility.  Caste factors are now used to protect jobs and livelihoods more than anything else.”

Let’s be honest, he did not say anything out of the ordinary or very wrong. Not just in jobs but in many government-run educational institutions most general category students are denied admissions and are forced to opt for private colleges. It has affected so many middle-class families who don’t depend on their caste to get admissions for their wards in colleges and jobs thereafter.

When these barbs failed to hit home, the MSM subtly changed track. In more than two decades or so, Lal Krishna Advani was the man who had been vilified by the MSM as the face of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. It was his Rath Yatra that fuelled a sense of insecurity in Muslims all over the country and drove a wedge between the two communities, they said. He was also one of the conspirators who watched as kar sevaks climbed atop the mosque in Ayodhya and brought it down on December 6, 1992. The MSM never failed to remind us that this was the man who was singularly responsible for destroying India’s secular fabric.

However, in the past few years, just because Narendra Modi and Amit Shah had sidelined Advani, they forgot all that and had been writing pieces about what a nice guy he was and how sorry they were to see him being sidelined – all done purely to rile Modi. And now, just to oppose Modi’s choice of Kovind they also rediscovered his hidden charms, democratic values and ethics. Suddenly “A man who has the wisdom and courage to say sorry is someone I would trust to safeguard our democracy and our values as president.” Amen.

By the way, has Advani ever said ‘SORRY’ for the demolition of the mosque?

Conveniently forgotten also was the fact that just last month the MSM went after Kalyan Singh when the court named him as a co-conspirator in the Babri case, and rightly so because they believed he escaped trial as he was governor. But, now they had no problem letting Advani off the hook.

The MSM also suffered selective amnesia with the minor matter of Advani’s age. He is 90 years old. In their rush to pull down 71-year-old Kovind’s nomination, they forgot they had roundly criticised Modi when he forwarded the name of 76-year-old Najma Heptullah for governor. So, they were okay with a 90-year-old Commander-in-Chief of the Indian armed forces?

And finally, on June 22, when Congress President Sonia Gandhi decided on Meira Kumar as her choice for president, the MSM began promoting the former speaker, known only for her closeness to the Gandhi family and for being one of the most ineffectual Speakers of the Lok Sabha with her patented “baith jaiyee, baith jaiyee” which never really worked. Her other claim to fame is the fact that she is Babu Jagjivan Ram’s daughter. Oh wait, there’s another – she is a Dalit, which of course some well-known journalists, who were accusing Modi of using the Dalit card while nominating Kovind, now have no problem with. All these flip flops, twists and turns by the MSM are only because their hatred for Modi surpasses all else along with the fear of seeing him come back to power in 2019. SO HE HAS TO BE STOPPED AT ANY COST.

Really guys, your slip is showing. You can have your personal viewpoint about anyone or anything but your flip-flops on a daily basis in the public domain do no good to your reputation as journalists we once admired. I say this because as someone who interacts with students of journalism in media colleges I get asked this question very often. Can you make it any more obvious that the lessons on ethics and morality you speak to budding journalists about is something you have conveniently buried under the mountain of half-truths you’ve been peddling ever since Narendra Modi came to power? And, I am not even getting into the years before that.


In the political history of India, this has easily been the mother of all elections! I think what we witnessed today was an earthquake in the political arena. One party winning a clear majority hasn’t happened since 1985. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like this since 1977 when the Janata Party threw out Indira’s Congress Party after the Emergency was called off. After that, this has been the most exciting election I’ve seen. And remember, unlike Indira in 1971 or the Janata Party, Modi had no war or a tactical win to use in his favour.

For all of Modi’s claim of development, the 2002 Gujarat riots would invariably pop up. In a bizarre sort of way, the UPA’s plan to bring the riots to the forefront and make it their main poll plank, only helped Modi consolidate his support. As the campaign reached its crescendo, it had become Narendra Modi versus the Rest of India’s political fraternity. And in that context, to win more than 300 seats is truly astonishing.

The UPA and every other party raised the 2002 bogey. And every time they did that, Modi talked development, jobs and a better life for the poor. He did not talk about the Ram Mandir, Hindutva or the riots. Sure, he regularly poked fun at the Ma-beta-beti-damaad’.  The opposition had just one theme – ‘Modi is a murderer, fascist, Hitler etc etc’.  I am afraid that began to grate after a while. Secondly, that would have worked if the other side was as clean as a whistle. They were not. They had enough skeletons in their cupboard that they were desperate to keep stashed away. Also, if you keep hammering away on just one point even the electorate gets tired. Finally, even they wondered, like I did, whether this was an election about how bad Modi was, or how good the UPA is. And I’ve said here, time and again, 2002 was 12 years ago. People were ready to move on. The UPA didn’t want them to.

The fact is the UPA proved to be a disaster in its last four years. They had won a second term on the basis of a clean, honest and decisive prime minister, who somehow, could not keep up the tempo after that and gave up on his government. Then the mother-son duo and their sycophants started throwing their weight around and the prime minister retreated further and further into his shell, until one really didn’t know who was running the government. Then there is the issue of taking responsibility.

Also, what political parties must have realised, especially those like the Congress and others which divide voters on caste and religious lines, is that in the end they will lose. The fact that the BSP, JD-U, RJD, Left, NCP, SP were all but wiped out, should be a lesson to them that wooing one community at the cost of another isn’t going to work anymore. It was almost as if for these parties the vast majority did not matter. I guess that the vast majority showed these parties who have survived on their blinkered vision for this long, exactly how much they mattered. As for AAP, Arvind Kejriwal should have realised by now that drama won’t him get him votes. but his party still managed 4 seats, which is not a bad start for a new party. To be honest BJP never denied that they were a Hindu party, but they smartly never tomtommed the fact. There were those irritants like Giriraj and others but somehow nothing stuck.

The second and more important fact was the people (except those who think the Gandhis can do no wrong) realised that the First Family was running a parallel government. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was insulted and rebuked at various times. It had to backfire, and it did. Then there were the scams involving ministers, and ‘private citizens’ that kept popping up. The manner in which the government put a protective ring around the Gandhi family only showed them in very poor light. Secondly, everything was left to Sonia, Rahul and later Priyanka Gandhi, none of whom could take on the BJP’s well oiled machine.

If you think I have a problem with the family, I hope you watched the impromptu press conference on Friday, and the completely arrogant and condescending behaviour of the mother and son. There was no word of congratulations for Modi, but instead only for the party. Wake up and smell the coffee Mrs G. Your party got the worst thrashing in its 100 plus year history.  Bringing that nose down a little won’t hurt.  Even the impromptu press conference was a disaster, with mummy indicating to sonny to move his ass! If Sonia and Rahul took the responsibility for the defeat, shouldn’t they have resigned? Let’s face it, Rahul is a disaster as a politician, and the only one who can pull the Congress out of the mess it is in, is Priyanka – but only if she says goodbye to her husband! There are good people like Jyotiraditya Scindia and Shashi Tharoor in the party, but the sycophants of the party who owe their careers and their very existence to the Gandhi family, will never allow the good people to come up.

However, now that the results are out and the National Democratic Alliance is all set to form the government, can we put all the rancour behind us? Sixty-four per cent of Indians voted this time, of which more than half voted for Modi. So, for the sake of all those who voted and want a government to run the country, can we let them? Those who didn’t vote (and I am not talking about the lot who were legally denied their right by the Election Commission) really don’t have the moral authority or the right to criticise. Of course, that won’t stop them from vitiating the atmosphere, because that is all they are good at.

This is the time for Narendra Modi to walk the talk. To show the rest of the country that the Gujarat development model is what he claims it is and can work everywhere. And if it can’t, then find another model that will give jobs to people, and help the desperate farmers and those living below the poverty line. They need security of a job and income and not government largesse. Let’s see what he can do.

Oh, and by the way, all my friends who stopped talking to me because they thought I am either a BJP supporter, or worse, a Hindu fundamentalist in the making, I am not. I didn’t even vote for Modi or his party!

The ruling dispensation has managed to give Pune a bad name again. If Suresh Kalmadi’s shenanigans in the Commonwealth Games scam, bomb blasts, arrests of terrorists, attacks against students from other states, were not enough to embarrass Puneities, along comes the latest – the great election scam.

For the past decade the ruling party’s politicians have taken the citizens of Pune for a ride and the latest incident should be the proverbial last straw on the camel’s back. One look at Pune’s newspapers today will give you the answer. Hundreds of thousands of voters found their names missing from the Pune parliamentary constituency list – in some cases, entire housing societies. And surprisingly, all these names were from areas predominantly known for their mass non-Congress vote banks. And was all this only because the candidate from the ruling party was terrified of losing the election?

The Times of India on Friday quoted the Pune Police Commissioner Satish Mathur as saying that between one and two lakh citizens were left stranded on Election Day, and even he could not vote! I personally know of voters who found their names missing and dutifully filled in the documents again and again, to still find their names missing from the final list when they went to vote. I also know of people living in Dahanukar Colony who complained over and over again to the officials concerned, about this anomaly, but their pleas were conveniently ignored. It’s pretty obvious now, why this was done. My wife submitted her documents and photograph from one constituency but her name was missing from the rolls. She found her name in another constituency! And law abiding citizens that they are, they took it on the chin and quietly went home. Had this been Bihar or Uttar Pradesh, some of these leaders and officials would have been dragged out on the streets and beaten black and blue!

I wouldn’t just call it an act of incompetence, but a deliberate attempt to subvert the only democratic practice the people have left to teach politicians a lesson. That BJP candidate Anil Shirole is planning a hunger strike to protest the mass deletions of voters’ names is an indication of who is behind the huge scam. Journalist and activist Vinita Deshmukh has filed an RTI in this regard and is also leading a protest in front of the collectorate. Shwetank Upadhyaya has stated on Facebook that “names of selected people” have been deleted from the voters’ list… “76,000 estimated voters from Kothrud alone.” If true, it is the biggest act of election fraud witnessed in the city.

Some friends of my wife told her how supporters of a party came to their home in Yerawada, with voting slips neatly folded with a thousand rupee note inside. One had also read how teachers of a particular educational institution belonging to a State minister were nabbed while they were distributing money to voters. Nothing new there, but still…

I was also told by journalist friend that the local administration turned around and asked the angry politicians and voters why they did not ensure that names were there. I know for a fact that many did and were assured there names would be on the list on election day. But that still begs the question, ‘why were over a lakh of voters deleted from the list?’. One also heard that a large number of AAP donors found their names missing.

The other issue is one of redrawing the boundaries of the constituency. Why, for example, is Hadapsar Assembly constituency moved to Shirur? What earthly reason do I have to suddenly vote for some candidate in Shirur, who I have never heard of, when I have lived all my life in Pune? Did the candidates who were contesting from Shirur even bother to visit my area to see how it was doing, or will they do so in the next five years? All these months we had been bombarded with messages to vote for Kadam, Ware, Shirole and Paigude. On voting day I looked at the EVM to discover that none of the above was on the list and some totally strange names were there instead, who I didn’t really know but was forced to vote for.

Shockingly, I found my name on the voters list in both Shirur and Pune constituencies, while my wife found her name in Wanowrie and not in Hadapsar, where we now live! I thought the whole point of the exercise was to vote for a candidate of MY CHOICE and not who the administration decides will be my candidate at the eleventh hour. So some candidate benefited from one vote which he wasn’t expecting, while I am, literally, forced to vote for a candidate who I don’t know from Adam, and will probably never see or will never be able to approach for the next five years.

Mahatma Gandhi and the politicians who formed the first government of Independent India were the first and last breed of secular politicians this country has seen. Since then there have only been pretenders. Real secularism was replaced by ‘politics of secularism’. By the time Indira Gandhi became the prime minister secularism had become just another dirty word.

Which is where I come to the grand old party of Gandhi (Mohandas Karamchand). Nehru, Patel and others, which claims to own the patent to secularism since 1885 or thereabouts, It has also allegedly claimed to have worked for the minorities and the downtrodden since then. If that is so, how is it that most of the minority communities and the downtrodden are still where they are since 1947? And even after being taken for a ride year after year, they continue to vote for the grand old party.

The amount of money that spent on them should have been enough to give them a better life. But has that happened? The fact that the government still has to give them food subsidies, free mobiles, write off loans etc, shows that the Congress party’s policies have, by and large, FAILED in their objectives to raise the living standards of the minorities and economically weaker sections.

If there are those from such communities and castes who have overcome obstacles and risen to make a name for themselves, they have done so because of their own desire to succeed. Just today I read about Yusufalli, a Malayalee businessman in the UAE, who has been voted the most powerful Indian in the Gulf for the fourth year running. That’s a fantastic achievement. The Indians in the Gulf are a good example of people working to make a living instead of depending on the sops thrown to them by government.

In journalism, there are two sides to every story. While I completely understand that Narendra Modi’s past with reference to Gujarat in 2001, makes him suspect, I am also aware that Congress politicians are equally guilty of engineering riots in the country and worse. If I tell a Modi-hater that neither the courts nor the security agencies have been able to pin anything on him for the riots, there are howls of protest, and they allege that he has manipulated the courts and the legal system. Fair enough. However, when I ask them why people like Kamal Nath, Tytler and others are still walking free for their alleged roles in various riots; about people like Lalu who walked free for 17 years until recently, then there is studied silence. There’s more, but let’s leave that for another day.

Why are the same secular people and media, who rail against Modi for his divisive politics and his riot-tainted past completely silent when someone like Shinde or Sonia waxes eloquent about being on the side of the minorities. Or is it a case of selective knowledge? Or is it that they are so blinded by hate for the BJP or Modi or whoever that is anti-Congress, that they turn a blind eye to any nonsense that is said in the name of secularism? It’s almost as if, anyone is against the Congress or Rahul, then he must be pro-Modi!

Then some of my good friends think that by ridiculing Rahul Gandhi and his antics, I am inadvertently making Modi a hero, which he is not. Then, of course, there are those veiled suggestions that I am, in fact, a closet Hindu fundamentalist or worse a Modi supporter. To be honest, my religious inclinations are quite a joke among the members of my family. In my home, during every festival, my wife, who believes in observing most festivals, has to drag me most reluctantly to the puja corner in our house, even to spend a few minutes in silence.

Yes I do carry a Hanuman Chalisa with me. It is usually in the glove compartment of the car. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. It started after I once found that I felt a little calm after reading it. I had to ask my wife and son what the words meant, though! So now one copy lies in my glove compartment. Call me silly, superstitious or whatever. So does that qualify me to be either a closet fundamentalist Hindu or a Narendra Modi fan? I hope not, otherwise a lot of people who read such books would also be labelled fundamentalists!

To be honest, I would rather be anything but a supporter of a government whose Home Minister demolishes the credibility of his own police force and intelligence community; where an upstart MP can ridicule his own prime minister and government on a public forum because he wants to indulge in theatrics to garner some brownie points; where the entire government machinery closes ranks to protect the son-in-law of the first family who they claim is a ‘private citizen’; where MPs accused in corruption cases can get re-elected to the Rajya Sabha with the backing of the ruling party, and where a Congress-ruled State government announces that loans taken by Muslims will be underwritten. So what crime have the others committed to be excluded from such munificence?

If this is how secularism is to be defined, thank you, but no thank you. And I am sure my Muslim friends understand the point.

My friend Edwin Skau probably thinks I am inhuman for referring to Rajiv Gandhi the way I did in my previous blog. I still believe that if Rajiv Gandhi had wanted he could have stopped the violence after the assassination of his mother. After all, he was the prime minister, but whether he was forced to allow the massacres to continue by the hawks in his party or didn’t honestly know enough of what was going on in Delhi, is something we will never know. In journalist Tavleen Singh’s book she has documented that he knew.
It’s a coincidence that I wrote about it in my blog, because just a day later I watched Madras Cafe. The film is riveting. That’s the perfect word to describe it. It also brought back some very unpleasant memories. And just in case some people think that I dislike Rajiv Gandhi, I don’t and I never did. I think he was genuinely a nice guy, who I believe would have made a much better prime minister the second time around. Fate willed otherwise.
I don’t know whether Rajiv took any money in the Bofors deal. And if I remember right Atal Bihari Vajpayee gave him a clean chit in Parliament. That’s good enough for me. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to produce hard evidence, not innuendos and crazy assumptions, like some silly name like Lotus, which means Rajiv in English! Just like my friend Edwin, I refuse to accept that he was a corrupt man. Immature…maybe, naive..maybe, But crooked…I find hard to believe. And then he’s dead now, so he can’t refute innuendos.
I remember May 21, 1991 very clearly. I had left for home early from work that day, and I had just reached when my colleague Mathew Fernandes called me back to work. He said there had been a bomb blast and Rajiv Gandhi had been injured. By the time I reached the office all hell had broken loose. News was trickling in and it wasn’t good. Then we got an official confirmation on the wire and rushed off to redo the pages. Unlike today, page designing was a cut and paste operation, so it took double the time it takes today.
All the phones in the office were ringing simultaneously and, remember, we didn’t have 24×7 coverage as yet. I think STAR News (although I am not sure) was the first channel to have news coverage apart from Doordarshan, which had flashed the news. We didn’t have a photo service that could have flashed pictures to us then, so we had to depend on grabbing the image from TV connected on a desktop.
I remember people calling us up to confirm the news and breaking down on being told. I don’t think there were too many dry eyes that evening in the newsroom. When the pictures flashed on the TV and they showed the body of the former PM lying on its stomach, we were shaking our heads in disbelief.
What shook us all was the manner of his death and the fact that someone could have been so committed to taking a life and giving up her own with a press of a button. It completely freaked most of us out. I for one was deeply saddened. I remember telling my mother and aunt, that he was too young to die and this was a blow the country would never recover from. And I don’t think the nation has recovered from that blow. And I am not referring to those nonsensical advertisements published about his dreams by the Congress Party!
There was another reason I had a soft corner for him. When my brother got married in 1986, my mother sent Rajiv Gandhi a wedding card! You see my brother and sister-in-law had the same first names as the Gandhi couple! On returning from the wedding our house help told us that the postman had been bringing a letter everyday and had refused to hand it over to anyone except the person who the letter was addressed to — my mother! She, of course, hadn’t breathed a word of it to anyone, fearing a lot of leg-pulling from everyone.
The next day the postman arrived with the letter and imagine my shock when we saw the letter. It was from the Prime Minister’s Office and had his seal. The message inside left me speechless. It read “Dear Mrs Sinha, Thank you for the lovely invitation card informing us of the wedding of your son Rajiv to Sonia. Sonia and I wish the couple the same happiness that we have had in ours.”
My first reaction was “What a smooth PR guy!”
So as I watched Madras Cafe these memories came flooding back, and as I watched the scenes leading to the assassination, I felt sick in my stomach. I closed my eyes, only to open them a few seconds later. I didn’t want to miss THAT scene.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may have all but anointed Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate, but the only way he will ever get there is if he steps out from under the shadow of Lal Krishna Advani. Sounds bizarre, doesn’t it? However, everything that has happened in the last few weeks seems to point in that direction. The only way Advani is going to give up his claim to the PM’s chair is till the verdict for 2014 stares him in the face. And maybe not even then! And don’t be surprised if he plots and schemes to ensure that Modi is discredited and disgraced, even after the party has backed Modi.

Observing the manner in which everyone – from media to politicians, both from the opposition and the BJP – has been gunning for Narendra Modi, reminds me of the days after the Emergency in 1977, when the Janata Party set up the various Commissions to inquire into the excesses committed by Mrs Indira Gandhi, her son Sanjay and their cohorts during the Emergency.

The Shah Commission was set up soon after the Janata Party came to power in the elections declared after the Emergency was lifted in 1977. Unfortunately, instead of putting Mrs Gandhi and her son in the dock for the manner in which they ran the country in those 21 months, the proceedings were hijacked by the duo and won for Mrs Gandhi the elections when the Janata Party collapsed.

What was interesting was the manner in which the wily Indira Gandhi garnered tremendous sympathy during the Commission hearings. I was then still in my teens but I remember pouring over reports of the Shah Commission proceedings in the newspaper. I think I got the Indian Express at home, and it was full of reports about the Turkman Gate incident, children being sterilised, people dying during such operations, the disappearance of P Rajan, a student from Kerala who had protested against the Emergency (incidentally, his remains are yet to be recovered). To a teenager it was riveting stuff. And then there was Vidya Charan Shukla, the then information broadcasting minister who had his stooges stationed in all newspaper offices that he believed were against his leader Sanjay. He also destroyed all (so he thought) copies of a film (Kirsa Kursi ka), which was a satire on the government.

When the Commission started its hearings, the wily Mrs Gandhi, ever the astute politician, played the victim so convincingly that midway through the proceedings the tables had turned. She attended the hearing everyday dressed in a simple cotton sari, sitting on a hard bench and even refusing water. It struck a chord. People began to feel that it was not her but her son who was the culprit, which in many ways he was. By then the newspapers too (we didn’t have 24×7 television news then) began to portray her as a woman wronged and from the accused she became the victim. It was now the Janata Party that was in the dock! What is happening today with Narendra Modi comes pretty close,

Look at the way everyone – politicians, activists, media – is going after Modi every time he opens his mouth. It borders on paranoia. It is either about his role in the Gujarat riots of 2002 or his claims of a development in the State or his remark about being a ‘Nationalist Hindu’ or the very loaded puppy remark. Anything he says gets mercilessly flogged by the politicians and picked up by the media. According to the dictionary the word ‘nationalist’ is defined as ‘Devotion to the interests or culture of one’s nation’. So what did Modi say that was so abhorrent, ask his supporters. Or for that matter his puppy remark. There is already a large segment of the population that believes Modi is being unfairly targeted. Just like the original Mrs G was. They would also have us believe that it was not Modi but others around him who should be held responsible for the pogrom in Gujarat.

It’s not like he is the only politician in the country who has allegedly ‘engineered’ a riot. Some former Congress prime ministers and chief ministers have watched as mobs have gone on the rampage, and quite a few ordinary politicians who are today part of the ruling dispensation, have been accused of not just inciting riots but playing an active role in them. What this is doing for Modi, is that it is making him a hero in the eyes of a large chunk of the population that believes that he is articulating their angst against everything that is wrong today.

For example, the tax-payer is angry with the UPA politicians for filling their pockets while they, the public, bears the brunt of rising prices. And no politician is bothered about them. Modi has, very smartly, stepped in to fill that breach. Like Raj Thackeray in Maharashtra who deliberately takes on the ruling establishment – be it the politician or the bureaucracy – Modi’s rhetoric has touched a nerve. And just yesterday I read that India Inc prefers Modi as prime minister to Rahul Gandhi. Must be a bitter pill to swallow for the Congress party.

Tomorrow he might turn out to be just another politician, but for now Modi seems to find support. And that worries the political class, including those in his party like Lal Krishna Advani. Coming from a politician who is part of the RSS, which has been known for its discipline, it speaks volumes of Advani’s desperation to become PM. Let’s wait and see whether Modi’s opponents who have been taking pot shots at him, find their target or just end up shooting themselves in the foot.

The other day, the editor, of the newspaper I work for, got a call from an irate reader who blasted him for missing a story on Narendra Modi. The Chief Copy Editor who was monitoring stories for the page and I missed the three or four paragraph story which was flashed on the wire at around 9 pm. In journalistic parlance it was a miss. It happens often. We usually let out the F word, castigate ourselves, and continue with our work. It’s not the end of the world. However, when the Editor told me about the reaction of the reader, it sounded like the reader almost said, “How dare you miss the story on Narendra Modi?”

The Editor tried telling him that we have always been carrying reports on Modi – for and against, and more for than against – and this one was an inadvertent miss, nothing else. But the reader was furious. It didn’t surprise me. The reaction is as bad as the one you get from sycophants of Rahul Gandhi, who won’t hear a word against their Prince Charming – like the Renuka Choudharys, Manish Tewaris and Sanjay Jhas of the world. At least they are a lot more civil in their use of language. The reaction of the Narendra Modi Fan Club, on the other hand, borders on the extreme, often (though not in this particular instance) from the abrasive to the vituperative, with no restraint on the language – MC, BC, TMK etc – which I am sure even Modi would not encourage. I sometimes read exchanges between pro and anti Modi groups and some of the language used by both makes me cringe.

I am no fan of the Congress Party or the Nehru-Gandhi clan either. I believe the party has done more damage to the ‘secular’ fabric of this country than the so called right-wing BJP did (if any) in the five years that it ruled. Their so-called sympathy for the Muslims and the oppressed classes is nothing but a squalid vote-grabbing exercise. And even the communities mentioned here have to be blind and stupid not to see that. If the Congress genuinely believed in secularism and support for the oppressed classes, both these ‘communities’ would have progressed. But they are still living off government dole. And politicians and religious leaders in their own communities are ensuring that they remain where they are with little or no change in their social status. What is unfortunate is very few have tried to break out of the state of deprivation they have been subjected to.

You can blame the upper class Brahmin for denying the backward classes their share of the pie. But you also have to remember that a majority of those upper class Brahmins, including the redoubtable Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru were part of the Congress Party that has ruled this country for over 60 years, which swore by the poor and on its so called secular credentials. The truth is it did little. If it had done something substantial, a majority of Indians wouldn’t be in the sorry state they are in today.  And the government would not be resorting to Food Bills, subsidies and reservations to keep those communities on their side. And when it comes to the secular talk, let’s not forget the anti-Sikh riots of 1984, where a Congress prime minister looked on indulgently as mobs ran riot through Delhi and various other parts of India. Does ‘secular’, according to the Congress, mean only appeasing the Muslims?  You can blame the BJP for the Babri Masjid demolition but you have to also remember that it was a Congress prime minister who actually did nothing to stop it.

And like the Congress, the BJP too cannot change history. Whatever happened in Gujarat is a fact. Whether Modi had a hand in it, is for the courts to decide. As for the puppy and ‘nationalist Hindu’ remarks, I think a lot of people deliberately misinterpreted the analogies, just like they deliberately misread Shashi Tharoor’s ‘cattle class’ tweet. And others just climbed on to the bandwagon! Whether it was an accidental or a deliberate attempt by Modi (the attached cartoon by Sakal Times cartoonist Alok Nirantar is a good indicator) to polarise voters, and whether it could do more harm than good to his electoral chances, is for him and his party to figure out as 2014 nears. The jury is still out on that one.


But his shouting brigade should stop behaving like he is already prime minister. When members of his own party are working against him, the least these clowns, who have anointed themselves his public relations department, can do is to temper their own reactions. Forget criticism, they cannot even accept a newspaper editor’s apology for missing a story on Modi! And these guys criticise the Congress government for being dictatorial! Not that the BJP has ever claimed to be ‘secular’ party. But since they have always been venting against the Congress for the manner in which it has been run all these years, I am surprised by the hysterical reaction of the Modi fan club against anything said about their leader.

The media will continue to write for and against Modi, as the case may be. I don’t think it needs lessons on propriety and free speech from his fan club. When the media has not spared the prime minister for his silence, why should they spare Modi for his puppy talk?