(It’s a reprint from NewsBred).
There is a reason for prime minister Narendra Modi to have an extra cup of tea which he loves so much in the morning. There are breakthroughs in Telangana and Manipur; a reaffirmation in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh; and Madhya Pradesh sealed for years to come. And then there is Bihar.
And he could afford to smell roses too in his garden now that the foul air of Covid-19, migrants trek, China-at-gate, economic tsunami, engineered anti-CAA etc harnessed by the devil siblings of Opposition and prepaid media has blown back on their faces. Even Hathras didn’t work.
This morning though the tea won’t be the same for regional satraps of Bengal, Kerala, Assam and Tamil Nadu who have an assembly election to defend in next few months. A couple of them are allies who suspect they would be soon out of breath in keeping pace with such a driven partner. They don’t have to speak to Uddhav Thackeray or Nitish Kumar. They know it in heart.
It brings us to two existential questions in India’s political landscape: Are BJP and allies actually enemies sleeping in the same bed?
The basic premise of this puzzle of course is whether the two need each other. BJP didn’t concede to Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and I am sure there must be second thoughts within if it was judicious. Hindu vote is divided in any case, if not stupid. Why fragment it further? It has allowed the Pawars and Gandhis a stroll in the power corridors. Shiromani Akal Dal (SAD) was better to be without since it was cohabiting with farmer mafia while BJP is committed to rid India of weeds on the ground.
Politics is vision. But it’s also about staying in the present. BJP need to be both pragmatic and principled with allies. Only a fool can’t see that the Rest are coming together en masse: It doesn’t matter if they were enemies (BSP-SP; NCP-Congress, JD (S)-Congress, PDP-NC) only till recently. They are sinking and would hold on to any straw. They would get wiser—if not by 2017 UP then surely by 2020 Bihar–that caste piper isn’t quite belting out the chartbusters. They would band aid the pockmarks of corruption. They would woo the masses which so far were not even worthy of their contempt. They would rely less on media and friends-in-courtrooms now that it no longer is cutting the ice.
They of course are on the pitch of anarchy for some time. To their minds, they have already dispensed with umpires, third umpires and DRS etc. It has helped them in paralyzing the Centre, bound as it is by its Constitutional vows. What voters can’t deliver, villains might.
All those who stand with you, matter
It ought to be BJP’s goal to be in power, state after state. It can’t do without allies. It would have to allay their reasonable fears. Like it can’t afford to let go both Chirag Paswan and Nitish Kumar in Bihar. BJP might have a vision for India and its friends might suffer from cataract but then who said it’s an ideal world. You need every that voice, every that whiff, every that ray which could brighten your cause. Most have baser instincts, shallow interests, malleable emotions. But even those who just stand with you, matter.
So instead of a mere blinkered vision, BJP needs to look around and greet those who could say hello in return. It must account for inadequacies of others. It’s too straight-jacket and regimented with its friends. It can’t be that BJP is afraid of criticisms. If it was so, Yogi Adityanath wouldn’t have become CM of Uttar Pradesh; Article 370 would still have been a thorn, CAA-NRC would have gone into files by now. But BJP only harps on development. It doesn’t on discourse. They need to cultivate allies; they need to empower voices rooting for them to do good to Mother India.
It’s a seminal moment in India’s history. In millenniums. BJP can’t let it go only because its rulebook is cast in stone. It has to take every single voice along. And it has to stamp the hood of serpent into ground. It would be a Prithviraj Chauhan if it lets go the moment against Muhammad Ghori. It would be a mistake to think that chorus is not contributing to the melody. Keep them in the background but keep them on the dais. Rise to their defence even if it’s unsavoury to your style. Men like Arnab Goswami, for instance, need you now. Niceties could wait.
So take your time as you finish your tea, Mr Modi. But open your gates a little wider, your drawing room a little more spacious, and summon extra chairs in the garden. There are more hues in the painting than just winning elections on the plank of bettering masses. There are independent voices, perhaps too stray and too disparate to matter to you or BJP. But they are helping the wider discourse. It would matter to you and India in longer run. Embrace them as you go forward.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
I bet most of you wouldn’t know it. For most of you read Indian Express, Times of India and Hindustan Times. And none of them carried the news that Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chose to abstain from voting on Rajya Sabha deputy chair on Thursday because Rahul Gandhi didn’t made a CALL to Arvind Kejriwal.
Indian Express, as usual, was the master of obfuscation. Buried deep down in their long story was one line:“AAP did a volte-face Thursday declaring it would support the Congress if Rahul Gandhi requested Arvind Kejriwal.” Indian Express never tells it readers that Rahul Gandhi never called!!! Instead, the newspaper terms it as “volte-face” on the part of AAP. Bravo.
First, the facts. AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, to all and sundry, spoke words which must have been acid to the ears of our Lutyens Media. Why did Sanjay Singh say? He said to the media an evening before on Wednesday that if Congress needed AAP’s support, its’ president Rahul Gandhi himself should make a call to Kejriwal.
But Rahul didn’t. And Sanjay wasn’t holding back his venom a day later on Thursday: “Congress is the biggest hurdle to Opposition unity. How will he (Rahul Gandhi) ensure the victory of his candidate if he cannot ask for votes?” It hurt AAP all the more that JDU chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar didn’t think it below his dignity to personally call up Kejriwal and seek support for NDA candidate,Harivansh Narayan Singh. “If Nitish could ask for support for his candidate, why not Rahul,” Singh said “When he (Rahul) can hug PM Modi, why can’t he ask Arvind Kejriwal to support his party’s candidate?” None of these damaging words, I can assure, you would find in these mentioned three English dailies.
Explosive, isn’t it? The news betrays a horde of staggering facts: (a) Opposition unity is going nowhere and Congress could be its biggest stumbling block; (b) Rahul Gandhi is arrogant; (c) BJP could’ve a cake-walk, come 2019 General Elections. And we are not even talking of the cascading effect it could’ve had on the forthcoming elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh in the remaining four months of 2018.
And yet it isn’t important to Lutyens Media? It writes reams and reams of columns on how BSP-SP combine would turn the tables on BJP; splashes pictures of opposition leaders holding aloft hands in Karnataka; berates HD Kumaraswamy on art of managing ally such as Congress; tears its lungs out on how Nitish and Modi are drifting apart; yet it finds Congress-AAP fall out no big deal. Strange, isn’t it. I mean Modi’s arrogance to allies is causing splits such as with TDP; but Rahul Gandhi’s nonchalance to Arvind Kejriwal is no arrogance and still good news for “mahagathbandhan”. See how dumb these newspapers think we are?
To be sure, these hacks of Lutyens Media know how to cover their tracks. So you search hard on internet, and you would find link to these stories, howsoever vague they are in description. Times of India, Hindustan Times and Indian Express do have taken note on internet. But it’s only a technical and legal defense; they have blanked it on their newsprint where their real audience is. I would be happy and ready to apologize if readers or these newspapers itself could point to any such coverage of Sanjay Singh’s reactions in their Delhi/Noida editions. I, for myself, found no such news in their newspapers.
There is a still bigger question which must trouble the sensibility of all readers. It couldn’t be the news never reached the teleprinter rooms of these newspapers. I mean the news was covered by Press Trust of India (PTI). Logically, any news desk would dread missing out on such an important story. I mean ask any journalist, he is taken to cleaners by his editor or served a show-cause notice for such a miss. But here not one, all three newspapers collectively spiked the story. It could be a coincidence; or someone takes decisions on behalf of these newspapers—your guess is as good as mine.
The pretence of “mahagathbandhan” must persist. The act of fooling paying-readers must go on. Meanwhile, you can count on Press Council of India (PCI) and Editors’ Guild to look the other way. And these guys want to “Save the Democracy” in India even while striking with hammers and axes at its fourth pillar, called Media.
There is a new narrative by the DALALS (Devious Left and Lutyens Scribes). It’s not about the fresh round of communal violence against Hindus in West Bengal where the Mamta government is seen overtly as pro-Muslim. It’s not even about the Facebook post which was used as a handle to beat Hindus with. It’s about the constitutional propriety of Governors who are accused of acting at the Centre’s behest.
The usual suspects such as Indian Express (their edit today, see image) and Rajdeep Sardesai have dumbed down the reprehensible Bengal violence to a debate about how BJP-appointed Governors are causing mischief. They have dragged down the Tripura and Puducherry Governors to connect dots and conclude that India’s democracy is in peril.
This is not as much ingenuity as the brazen, brash conviction that their echo chambers would drown out any voice of reason. That nobody would question them, like how come Governor Ram Nath Kovind earned so unabashed a praise from Modi-baiter Nitish Kumar in Bihar?
Said Nitish: “Kovind has discharged his duties in an unbiased manner as the Bihar Governor. He has worked as per the Constitution and upheld the dignity of the Governor’s post.”
This from a Chief Minister of a state which handed over a humiliating defeat to Modi in 2015 Bihar assembly elections, just a year after the BJP’s euphoric triumph in 2014 General Elections.
These DALALS have also swept under the carpet the unequivocal support which West Bengal Congress state chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has offered to Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi.
As per Chowdhury, he had no “valid reason” to demand Tripathi’s recall and said he had found the Governor to be a “thorough gentleman and affable person.”
Yet, these inconvenient truths don’t suit the DALALS. That these voices of conscience have come from bitter Modi foes matter least to them.
A few questions, which hopefully would drill a hole through their echo chambers and if nothing else alert citizens about these devious forces at work, are thus;
(a) What’s the exact nature of this conversation between Tripathi-Mamta? And if the DALALS are not privy to this private telephonic talk, what makes them pitch for Mamta and not Tripathi?
(b) While accusing BJP Governors for undermining democratically elected state governments, what makes DALALS give clean chits to Mamta, Arvind Kejriwal or Akhilesh Yadav governments who are under scanner from investigating agencies of the land? What makes them believe these leaders are upholder of democratic traditions?
(c ) Why these DALALS have no stance at all on this communal violence in West Bengal? Why they never call Mamta by name? Why this studious stand to avoid word “Mamta” all through their writings?
(d) Why no question has yet been asked to Mamta about her silence on the “triple talaq’ issue? Come on you champions of feminist causes. Don’t show your menstrual cramps.
(d ) With the known Jihadi presence in neighbouring Bangladesh, why these DALALS have not stopped to question the threat of Jihadis turning West Bengal as their base for further attacks on India’s sovereignty? Why this studious silence?
(e) Failing this, do they want a story similar to Kashmiri Pundits be repeated in Bengal? Have they paused and dreaded the consequence of such a migration? And its devastating effect on the India we know?
Instead of addressing these grave issues and questioning Mamta’s role through all this, these DALALS have trained their guns on Tripathi, an octogenarian without a whiff of controversy during his long career in public eye. An esteemed poet and writer, Tripathi’s commentary on The Representation of People Act, 1951 is still held in high regard.
The obfuscation by DALALS could have been comic if it was not this tragic. There could be no Ramchandra Guha or Pawan Verma invited on TV debates since the matter itself has been given a quite burial.
Today, on front page, Indian Express reported on Richard Verma’s visit to Bihar and the US envoy’s comment that “free speech is a key tenet” of India and United States.
Wrong Mr Envoy. Free speech is not a key tenet of United States. And no, we don’t have just Julian Assange and Edward Snowden in mind! The US State Department rules that “former employees are expected to refrain from engaging in activities of any kind, including writing manuscripts or giving speeches…”
Present US rules allow indefinite detention of Americans without due process which a federal judge mentioned has a “chilling effect” on free speech. The secret service can arrest anyone protesting near the President. And we haven’t come down to mass spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) yet which isn’t quite a recipe to encourage free speech.
It would interest Indian Express to know that journalists who report on whistleblowers are being persecuted. Protestors are being tear-gassed and beaten. And if you are filming police officers in public, you had it.
Back to today’s front page story. Mr Envoy was duly asked on JNU incident and he said that “it should be left to the government and students to decide (on the free speech debate).”
Wrong again Mr. Envoy. The matter is out of government and students’ hands. It’s now with judiciary. Look at it this way, government has charged a few students with sedition. And you want the two to mutually decide across the table? It’s like Barrack Obama calling Islamic State Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to the White House “to decide” on terrorism. Do you see the absurdity?
By now the Indian Express decided to take the matter in its own hands. It added in next para that this is the first time a diplomat in India has spoken about the JNU affair.
Really? We all Indians must hang our heads in shame. After all, an employee of a different nation has censured our sovereign country.
Before the para is out, the dagger was plunged deeper. The newspaper added for good effect that Verma was concerned over the “chilling effect” of regulatory steps taken by the Modi (and not Indian) government against certain NGOs including the Ford Foundation.
Let me refresh your memory. Last year, the Centre put Ford Foundation on a Watch List and restricted its funding based on Gujarat government’s view of its “covert activities.” Ford Foundation provides enormous funding to a few of India’s elite educational institutions.
So now let me tell you about the Ford Foundation. The most influential liberal foundations of the 20th century are Carnegie Foundation, the Rockfeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation, collectively known as the Big Three. All three were set up by America’s leading capitalists in 1911, 1913 and 1936.
In his book “Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism,” author Robert F. Amove states that the philosophy of these Big Three is designed to sustain the hegemony of the existing market forces.
Worse, these liberal foundations are accused of working closely with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States. A US Congressional investigation in 1976 revealed that nearly 50% of the 700 grants in the field of international activities by the principal foundations was funded by the CIA (Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War: Frances Stonor Saunders, Grants Books, 1999, Pp: 134-135).
By the late 1950s, the Ford Foundation possessed over $3 billion in assets. The leadership of the Foundation were in total agreement with Washington’s post-WWII projection of world power. “At times, it seemed as if the Ford Foundation was simply an extension of government in the area of international cultural propaganda. The foundation had a record of close involvement in covert actions in Europe, working closely with Marshall Plan and CIA officials on specific projects ( ibid, p.139).”
(There is a lot which could be said about these collaborators of imperial, cultural agenda but it’s not our focus for the moment. In these pages, you would know for instance about Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who are facing a writ petition in India’s Supreme Court for “criminally negligent, trialling the vaccines on vulnerable, uneducated and under-informed” population of India or how Obama inflames passion in India, or what is the credibility of Moody’s.)
So let’s return to the Indian Express story,. Over the next two paras it quotes two Western European diplomats but since neither they nor their countries are revealed, we can’t be sure if it is true or fictional. (how sub-editors let it pass must be a mystery). Obviously these mysterious diplomats refused to be identified. But one of them did mention the impact it would be on “economic climate.”
If it’s not a veiled threat, I don’t know what it is. If the idea from these well-wishers is that the bogey of “intolerance” and “communalism” would stop foreign investment, they ought not to have worried. We all know how economically messy Europe and European Union (EU) is since 2008. We also know of India’s healthy economic forecast by independent international agencies.
The Indian Express story hasn’t ended (indeed, it’s of such monstrous length spilling over two pages that you wonder if these are mere envoys and unnamed diplomats or not Nostradamus reborn). It reports apology of quotes from Russian, Chinese and African diplomatic sources before returning to Verma again.
Verma is now quoted at length on the necessity of freedom at our college campuses which he termed the “laboratories of thought.” He then mentions the importance of “upholding minority rights” and rambles on before concluding that “speech is a central tenet we (US and India) hold dear.”
There are a lot of times in this lengthy reportage when a reporter ought to have interjected and having failed to do so either ought to have omitted these quotes or supplemented it with his or her own corrective interpretation and analogy. We are not informed on what purpose Verma went to Bihar such was the indecent haste to publish this report. We can only conclude it was “plug”—plain and simple. A cheating of newspaper’s paying customers.
What it took decades for these newspapers to build their reputations, they are intent on squandering in a matter of days. They need to take a closer and harder look at their own agenda. The resistance must come from within its premises and people. It’s better they laugh and scold each other in private than be open to ridicule and contempt in public.