Posts Tagged ‘Lal Krishna Advani’


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.

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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.