(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Millions of Indians today would term West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is arrogant. Or why she wouldn’t pick up the phone calls from Prime Minister Narendra Modi or returns call to state governor Keshari Nath Tripathi when crisis is as grave as Cyclone Fani or the state is sitting on a time-bomb on doctors’ agitation?
Tens and thousands of us would also call “Didi” a fascist. Or why she would jump out of her caravan and confront people who are merely chanting “Jai Shri Ram”, a matter of greeting among India’s masses? Or why she would tell the agitating doctors to return to work within four hours or face the consequences?
Lakhs of Indians won’t deny either that she is communal in her approach, favouring Muslims and running down Hindus. Or why she would change “ramdhenu” with “rangdhenu” in textbooks? Pass the stricture that idol immersion in Durga Puja must be postponed on Muharram day?
An overwhelming numbers of us would also term Mamata Banerjee as an autocrat. Or why she would deny prominent opposition leaders, from Amit Shah to Yogi Adityanath, from landing on her turf for election rallies? Tear up the posters of BJP’s rallies? Pull up custom officials who have the temerity to stop her relatives at the airport?
A still bigger number of us would’ve no doubt that the only news emerging from West Bengal for so many days is violence. Mamata Banerjee and her TMC must take the blame for violent politics. So rampant is the politics of blood that 34% of seats in Panchayat elections go uncontested. Or the lynchings which takes place regularly on Bengal’s streets.
None of us would also deny that Mamata Banerjee is undemocractic and unconstitutional. People (Priyanka Sharma) are jailed for posting memes on whatsapp; professors (Rakesh Sinha) is booked for inciting violence when all he has done is to visit a temple with his mother.
Millions would nod in affirmative that Mamata Banerjee resembles a dictator in Bengal. The bureaucracy is under her thumbs; police is an extension for her coercive politics and is shielded from investigations by Central agencies. She even resists interventions of Supreme Court.
Millions would’ve also heard about the ongoing Saradha, Narada and Rose Valley scams and the charges that Mamata Banerjee is corrupt. The corruption charges have engulfed her TMC party.
All too often we hear that terror network and jihadi forces are rampant in West Bengal. That terror-network Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen has taken roots in the state. The news that radicalization has taken place in madarsas in districts such as Bardhaman. That the dreaded Islamic State (IS) has named a new “emir” in West Bengal. How would Mamata Banerjee deny the allegation that she is a “secessionist” and one of India’s “tukde-tukde”gang?
Now please put all these adjectives together: arrogant, fascist, communal, autocrat, violent, undemocratic, unconstitutional, dictator, corrupt etc together. Name one person who has been called all this by India’s ecosystem in the last five years: Yes, you are right—Narendra Modi. And I challenge you to show one instance in our mainstream English media—Lutyens Media—who has ever accused Mamata Banerjee of such traits.
What is an ecosystem? Ecosystem isn’t the government in power. Ecoystem is a network of politicians, media, academicians, lawyers, bureaucrats, institutional heads, cultural czars etc who work in unison to push a particular agenda.
So think about the politicians (such as Rahul Gandhi, Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah, Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati etc), journalists (Shekhar Gupta, Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghose, Barkha Dutt etc), laywers (Prashant Bhushan etc), academicians (Prof. Ram Chandra Guha, Faizan Mustafa, Rajmohan Gandhi etc) institutional heads (former Election Commissioners, Police Commissioners, Ex Chief Justices of India who occupy the edit pages), cultural czars (Javed Akhtar, Kamal Haasan etc) etc. Look at their twitter timelines to show me if they’ve ever accused Mamata Banerjee of being communal, autocrat, corrupt or instigating lynchings etc. How is that when rest of India has almost a similar opinion on Mamata Banerjee, these biggies who occupy our ears, eyes and minds have a completely different opinion?
It is easy for India’s ecosystem to do whataboutery. So when violence happens in Bengal, it’s both TMC and BJP who are guilty. If provocation happens, both TMC and BJP are at fault. If communal issues are flaring up, both TMC and BJP must take the blame.
But now the eco-system is in a bind. The doctors’ agitation can’t be blamed on BJP. It’s people who are rising up against Mamata Banerjee’s TMC in the state of Bengal. You can resort to propaganda against RSS and BJP, weave themes on lynchings and communalism but how do you face up to the wrath of millions. It’s the people of India who stood up to the ecosystem and showed it the mirror in the 2019 General Polls. It’s the people who are again exposing this network in rapidly deteriorating West Bengal.
As they say, you can fool some of the people all the time. But you can’t fool all the people all the time.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has had her way since the “rath yatra” planned by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is struck down by the Supreme Court.
Predictably there is no outrage in Lutyens’ Media which is par for course since they had similarly ignored Ms. Banerjee postponing the Vijay Dashmi celebrations after Muharram fell on the same day.
Media never devoted columns and editorials when Supreme Court had to step in even for nominations in Panchayat elections last year. There was no outrage in newspapers when 13 people were killed on the voting day itself; in all 50 lives were lost.
All too often Ms. Banerjee cites law and order problem to throw up her hands in despair and media sees no oddity in it since law and order is state subject and TMC owns West Bengal in its iron fist, having won 211 of the 295-seat assembly in 2016.
Media, which cries itself hoarse on the autonomy of Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) being under threat sees nothing wrong in Ms. Banerjee barring the central agency from operating in her state. They have no problem when Ms. Banerjee pulls out of the Ayushman Health insurance scheme only because all the credit was going to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Ms. Banerjee could raise the demons of a “civil war” (on the issue of settlers in Assam) and still be spared a critique. An FIR to arrest RSS’ Rakesh Sinha on his social media posts is nothing alarming in the prejudiced eyes of the media who swear by the freedom of speech as its gospel.
So deathly is the silence of media on affairs in West Bengal that you wouldn’t even remember Jihadi forces rained violence in Bashirat district against Hindus last year. That BJP leaders fled the state by dozens in the wake of the violence.
Media sees nothing communal when “ramdhenu” is replaced with “rongdhenu” in school text books in West Bengal; when a fatwa-issuing Islamic cleric (Maulana Nurur Barkati) against Narendra Modi is emboldened enough to use “lal-batti” atop his car even as the practice is banned; when Rs 2500 and Rs 1000 is given as monthly stipend to 56,000 imams and muezzins of the state (no such windfall to Hindu priests).
Ms Banerjee seems to provoke Hindus no end up like when she appointed Firhad Hakim — a TMC MLA who once referred to Kolkata’s Garden Reach area as “mini-Pakistan”– the chief of the famous 300-years-old Tarakeshwar Temple. One of TMC’s Rajya Sabha member (Ahmed Hussain) is a founding member of the banned outfit, Students Islamic Movement of India; There is Rs. 1.5 lakh worth of state scholarship to those Muslim students who get less than 50 per cent marks at the school level (even as other students, including Hindus, can only secure it at over 50 per cent overall marks). “Those dead during Haj are compensated with Rs 10 lakhs while the Hindu families of those killed in riots get Rs 35,000,” said Tapan Ghosh, then a leader of the Hindu Samhiti.
Even as media has criminally turned its back on these dangerous trends, Hindus seem to be getting their act together in the state. Presently there are 1500 odd RSS shakhas in the state—as against 800 in 2013. BJP is now the main opposition party in West Bengal. A true glimpse of this renaissance would be visible over next couple of weeks when BJP/RSS plan to hold multiple rallies in Bengal.
Hindus, pushed against the wall, might strike back against the present dispensation in Bengal. They are 70 per cent in numbers to 27 per cent Muslims. However, an entitled Muslim population—also bloated by illegal Bangladeshi Muslims in the sate—won’t concede the acquired ground readily. Bengal is sitting on a volcano about to burst even as media wouldn’t let you know.
Hindus need to look at how they address the forces against them in India.
It’s alright to be outraged that a Kathua has politicians, actors and presstitutes creating a sustained surround sound while reducing a similar rape in a madarsa akin to a weather bulletin.
You see a Shekhar Gupta plaster his twitter’s wall page with the image of Kathua lawyer; Bollywood bimbos hold placards in protest; Rajdeep Sardesai and Sagarika Ghose convulse through dozens of tweets on Kathua but the Madarsa rape doesn’t interest these clergies of morality.
The same on Biplab Das. The cabal has woken up to Tripura and are hounding a young politician who was central to a tectonic shift in North East in a truly historic election of independent India. Das is used as an excuse to parody the Hindu gods; there is a silent acquiescing to a profane Western historian calling Rama a “pig”. Neither “Janeudhari” Rahul Gandhi nor “Why-I-Am-A-Hindu” Shashi Tharoor are offended.
This cabal would hammer away at a Biplab Das but the constant blabbering and lies of a Rahul Gandhi is met with “his-speech-is-improving” innuendo.
There is a forceful counterpoint—I would term them as “Lone Rangers” henceforth–from OpIndia and SwarajyaMag; Postcard News and PGurus; a few TV news networks stand up to the shameless; erudite voices such as David Frawley, Rakesh Sinha and firebrand Shefali Vaidya rip open this Zanus-faced cabal. Yet it all appears a mine-blast compared to the guided munitions which rain from the sky.
What’s the trick outraged Hindus are missing?
Social Media: The Left-Liberal cabal has only 8-10 voices which it has created and promoted into brands (It has to be a “creation” for they never ever take a critical look as Christo-Islamic forces). The “nexus” works with everyone promoting and shielding each other. Those voices are picked by a similar network abroad. Stray voices, similar themes and a lie is easily brushed into a truth.
Our “Lone Rangers” on the other hand rarely form a formation. At the most a retweet and a shelf-life of a few hours. Mostly, each to his own. There is no method. There is no understanding that a sum is bigger than the parts.
Television: Most of us remember a harebrained Saba Naqvi; a mangy John Dayal or a scruffy Kumar Ketkar from TV debates on Prime Time. Could you name any independent neutral voice you remember? There are dime-a-dozen forceful presences on twitter (What the heck, let me bite my own bullet and name my favourite Dirty Dozen: @mediacrooks, @nesenag, @shefvaidya @unsubtledesi @rahulroushan, @rajivmessage, @davidfrawleyved, @madhukishwar, @mvmeet, @SreeIyer1 @thejaggi and @ARanganathan72). Not all are right-wing voices; some could be overtly critical too of NDA government (like @mediacrooks, @ARanganathan and @thejaggi). Yet, either they shy away or TV networks keep them out. This must change. TV news are very stale and badly needs fresh voices. Social Media must bring out a sustained pressure on them to “open up” TV studios.
Print media: This is the difficult part. Mainstream media, especially English, is already controlled by Left-Liberal cabal. Regional media have a huge role as a counteracting force. They must seek out above independent voices and give them space.
A tactics which we could learn from Lutyens Media is how they create a narrative and then sustain it. They pick up a subject, sustain it with old and new information, new angles, helpful interviews, columns in edits and even anniversaries! And what “Lone Rangers” have done with Madarsa Rape? A customary objection and little else. Haven’t we shifted our focus away from Audrey Truschke too soon? (And don’t give me the BS that it would only make her a star).
It’s all about rallying to a cause. It alone sustains passion and reverses the narrative.
Bollywood: It has long been controlled by dubious funds and Muslim-centric ethos. A “pujari” is always shown lecherous (e.g Kanhaiya Lal or a Shakti Kapoor) while a “Muslim” character is invariably depicted as paanch-time namazi (viz a A.K. Hangal). All the right-minded Indians could do is to expose their duplicity–regularly.
The above four forces–to go with the fifth of school texts and academia–control the narrative. “Lone Rangers” need to grow muscles to counter it. Own ivory towers won’t help. As long as heart is in the right place, differences in IQs, fan-following, language quality, status must not matter. IT MUST NOT MATTER.
“Lone Rangers” clearly suffer from resources. But for their toil and time, sweat and passion, there is little in support. Most of them sacrifice their working hours or leisure time with family to do what they feel is necessary for India’s future. They need be supported, not judged through prejudicial, hierarchical lenses.
These voices need be sustained; be called over to seminars and panel discussions; be invited to educational institutions for lectures; be part of alternative litfests. I have been a journalist all my life and trust me, voices mentioned about talk more sense than my own discredited professional community.
Lack of time ought not to be any excuse. Hit the road in protests on your temples, education and religion. Don’t back off. Only those who assert their identity, retain their identity.
A call must go out to corporate houses. Look at how The Wire gets its funds. They are given funds by a foundation which has trustees such as Aamir Khan, Azim Premji, Ms Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, TN Ninan. If you can’t spare time to write or debate, at least spare change from your pockets, big or small, and make a difference. Or remain deluded with the story that a hard-working tortoise wins race in the end.