Wednesday, March 12, 2014

(p)AAP and the media nexus!

The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference.

The recent viral video of serial liar Arvind Kejriwal asking Punya Prasun Bajpai to play up sections of his interview is not the only proof of friendly media exaggeration of Arvind Kejriwal’s theatrics. Many other instances have been happening that require the attention of the reader. This article aims to give some more examples of such co-operation of the media with Arvind Kejriwal.
If there is an element of exaggeration in what he (Arvind Kejriwal) says, it does not matter because electoral politics is shaped to a great extent by public perception.” 
This exceptional defence of Arvind Kejriwal’s statements did not come from any AAP spokesperson. It came from prominent columnist in The Hindu, Vidya Subrahmaniam. She and her ilk have continuously bombarded us with claims of how Modi exaggerates development in Gujarat. This group even spent a lot of ink coming up with obscure numbers in an attempt to criticise Modi. Today, miraculously, Vidya Subrahmaniam says that the exaggerations by Arvind Kejriwal do not matter!
First of all, I take strong objection to the usage of the word ‘if’ in the statement “If there is an element of exaggeration.” Instances of Arvind Kejriwal exaggerating are so many that it will become a Herculean task to list them all. We use the word ‘if’, only when the instances are few and far between. Everything Arvind Kejriwal says is an exaggeration. Recently in Gujarat, he  even paid homage to three RTI activists. The only problem being that these three people were alive, hale and hearty. That is the level to which this man can stoop in order to exaggerate. But for Vidya Subrahmaniam, this is okay because what matters is perception. The same perception with which they had a problem earlier.
Today’s centre-page article in The Hindu by Vidya Subrahmaniam is more revealing. She takes up a strong defence of Arvind Kejriwal’s recent antics in Gujarat. It is almost as if it was she who coached him to do and say all the things he did in Gujarat. Sample this:
“By declaring war on the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate directly and boldly questioning his friendship with the big corporates, Arvind Kejriwal has signalled a historic shift in the trajectory of India’s anti-corruption campaign.”
Phew! Hard to believe that so much bunk can be fitted in one sentence! “Friendship with big corporates” = “Anti-Corruption campaign” must be ranked as one of the most unimaginative, unintelligent comparison ever to have happened. Throwing in random unrelated questions to Adani’s rise or Ambani’s wealth to Narendra Modi’s silence or friendship is a cheap way of “declaring war”.
Arvind Kejriwal’s rise in media is precisely because of this kind of low-quality analysis and biased narrative that we have been fed with. All Kejriwal needs to do is to pose a question – the reality behind it doesn’t matter to this ilk; the content in it doesn’t matter to this ilk. ArvinKejriwal merely wants to plant the seeds of doubt, and this ilk is more than happy to lend a helping hand to him. No wonder they think that exaggeration does not matter. The viral video of Kejriwal talking to the editor of AAJ TAK is another prime example – this ilk is more than willing to help Kejriwal in winning the “perception” campaign – let not the real content come in the way of this chicanery!
It continues to baffle me as to how Kejriwal manages to get so much coverage – totally disproportionate to the power he wields. Sample this report on IBN Live:  
"Arvind Kejriwal dares Narendra Modi in his own den, calls him a liar.” 
The entire report reads like written by someone who is a fanatical AAP supporter, in the guise of being a reporter! First off, many politicians have called Modi a liar. Many politicians have “dared”Narendra Modi in Gujarat - “his own den”. What is so big about Arvind Kejriwal doing it? Are they implying that no one else did it before? Gujarat is a State, not someone’s fiefdom, to be referred as “his den”. Tomorrow if someone were to criticise the Prime Minister of this country, is he/she doing it from the Prime Minister’s “own den”?
The second and third paragraphs in this article will put any objective journalist to shame. It starts with “Arvind Kejriwal has done his homework well” and ends with “His claims drew applause and cheer from the crowd.” And he just mentioned issues that were in the news for a long time – from when did parroting news items become equivalent to “doing homework well”? And here’s another important and pertinent question – if IBN can write such fawning articles, why don’t they have articles that criticise this man with equal fervour?
There is no end to the deification of Arvind Kejriwal by these media groups. Sample this front page report in The Hindu recently.
  AAP-media nexus, dangerous combo for democratic India
AAP-media nexus, dangerous combo for democratic India
The headline talks about J Jayalalithaa’s call to Mamata Banerjee, but the graphic highlights Arvind Kejriwal’s and Modi’s picture”. It says Kejriwal “prevented”from meeting Modi! He did not have an appointment; he was throwing around some farcical questions to Modi; and The Hindu feels that he was “prevented” from meeting Modi. Is this the “exaggeration” that they are ok to peddle? Because this “element of exaggeration” will definitely help them in the perception war!
Or see this report, where they say Arvind Kejriwal addressed a “huge gathering”. Do you want to know what the “element of exaggeration” in this report is? Please see this report!
  AAP-media nexus, dangerous combo for democratic India
IBN Live conducted a debate last night on whether the AAP was being hypocritical in giving tickets to journalists; in soliciting the media on what to telecast and yet deriding the media day in and day out. They called Ashish Khaitan – well know Modi-baiter and now AAP’s candidate for New Delhi. Also on the panel was Nirmala Seetharaman. The uneven match aside, it is important to hear what Ashish Khaitan tells Rajdeep Sardesai in the beginning,“We all know how newsrooms function”! We, the viewers don’t know! The viewer simply assumes that the editor/journalist is being unbiased – but he simply spilled the beans! And then Ashish goes on to ask the most hilarious question of recent times (he actually repeats it some 10 times, changing the words) – “ Why is there no scrutiny of Gujarat”. Whom is Ashish Khaitan kidding? Have we all not been witness to the malicious campaign on Modi, with Ashish Khaitan being one of the most prominent members to do it? Yet, with a straight face, he asks why there is no scrutiny of Gujarat? What more scrutiny does he want?
And lastly, Rajdeep Sardesai tries to paint the “all political parties are same” argument. He (conveniently) forgets that the AAP told us that they are different, and will do things differently. Why are they being allowed to get away with “We are doing the same as others” argument? Because some “element of exaggeration” is ok?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

"Thank you for the GIFT" !

The following article has been written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference: 

With a straight face, the Andhra Pradesh Congress chief Botsa Satyanarayana told the Press this:
“We will make every effort to tell the electorate in Seemandhra that the special package to that State is because of the efforts of Congress leaders.”
Everyone was witness to Cabinet Ministers taking turns to deride their own Government on how their demands for a package to Seemandhra were being ignored. Everyone was witness to the spectacle of a Union Minister standing in the Rajya Sabha and whining how his own party did not at least listen to their demands. Everyone was witness to the hectic lobbying the BJP made in the Rajya Sabha for the package. Yet, Botsa had the gall to stand and claim credit for the package! This is just an example of the depths that the Congress in Andhra Pradesh can plunge into.
Last night, after the Cabinet meeting, Union Minister of Rural Development Jairam Ramesh addressed the Press. He announced that the Government has decided through an Ordinance that 7 mandals - which will fall under the submerged region of the Polavaram project, belonging to the Bhadrachalam division will be a part of the Andhra Pradesh, and not Telangana. Only the revenue village that houses the famous Ram temple will remain with Telangana region.
Another example of Congress chicanery this – the original Bill said all 7 mandals will fall in Andhra Pradesh. Following an uproar (including a protest by Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury), the Government announced that only a select few villages that will actually be submerged will be part of Andhra Peadesh. After passing the Bill in this form, now the Government says that except for the revenue village that houses the Ram temple, everything else will go to AP! The TRS chief has announced that he will go to court regarding this. Why can’t this Government do anything right at all? Why the continuous secrecy, chicanery and lies?
The people of Andhra Pradesh, for the 2nd consecutive time gave a whopping majority to the Congress party in 2009 (the 1st one being in 2004). The people sent 33 MPs from the state to the Congress party’s kitty so that Sonia Gandhi can form UPA-2. I read somewhere that when the Prime Minister meets YSR, he used to say something like this: “We are here because you are there”. That is the key role the people of Andhra Pradesh have played in Sonia Gandhi’s fortunes. Her blatant mishandling of the political situation after the untimely demise of YSR has shown how woefully ill-equipped she was to handle exigencies in this state. The unlimited freedom she gave to YSR was evident when the entire Congress party had no clue on how to handle the affairs of the state once he died! The way Andhra Pradesh has plunged into darkness gives credence to the testimony that the rise of YSR was more like a regional chieftain and not as a Congress leader alone.
The reward that the people of Andhra Pradesh got in 2014, for giving a massive mandate in 2009, is President’s Rule! In July 2013, she announced her final resolve to split Andhra Pradesh. The then Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy wanted to resign then itself. In his words, “I stayed on because Sonia Gandhi convinced me to stay.” He finally resigned in February, 2014 – a nice 8 months after wanting to resign, but staying because Sonia wanted! So – after enjoying power for nearly a full term, now, we are witness to this spectacle of President’s Rule in a State that gave the ruling coalition a mandate that no other State in this country has given. If this is not an example of the blatant mishandling of the mandate given to her, then what is?
The political realignment in the State still has no clarity. In all probability, TRS will not merge into Congress because the cadre is dead against it at this point of time. There will only be an electoral alliance in the upcoming election. The mood in TRS is upbeat, with many MLAs from TDP joining their camp now! Meanwhile, Kiran Kumar Reddy is in a quandary as to what to do next – he wants to start a party but this close to elections, he knows he has no chance of making an impact. Or perhaps, he will split the votes of Congress and later merge back into the Congress! Either way, his resignation has not created any dramatic impact as was widely believed will happen.
Not more than a handful of MLAs are sailing with him right now. The biggest support he has is from the 6 expelled MPs. While the TDP is gaining supporters from the Congress in the Seemandhra region, the YSRCP continues to be a strong contender for power. It is yet to be confirmed if the BJP will ally with TDP or not.  Meanwhile in Telangana, Sonia Gandhi is being showcased as goddess and Mother of Telangana. An overdose of posters have replaced the disastrous Rahul Gandhi “Not this, that” ads also! Sycophants of the party are thanking her for “gifting” the State; for giving “consent to 60 years of dreams”; for “granting” Telangana and what not!
Congress's chicanery continues to hurt Andhra Pradesh Congress's chicanery continues to hurt Andhra Pradesh Congress's chicanery continues to hurt Andhra Pradesh