(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Since Lutyens Media—Times of India, Indian Express, Hindustan Times and The Hindu—is so hopeless, I took to computer to read the local daily, The Telegraph and catch the action from ground in Kolkata this morning.
The event I was excited about was Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to the capital of Bengal—the first since the 2019 Elections in May which all but buried the ruling dispensation of Trinamool Congress. Shah was visiting Kolkata and inaugurating a pandal of “Durga Puja.” He later addressed a crowd of 11,000, mostly BJP workers, at Netaji Indoor Stadium on Tuesday.
I took to The Telegraph after the Lutyens Media failed me in terms of details of Shah’s address. Every line in Lutyens Media was honed in on the National Register of Citizens (NRC), a Supreme Court-mandated exercise which was taken recently in Assam and excluded over 19 lakh citizens. Lutyens Media, not one of them, sees logic in throwing out infiltrators which the NRC is all about. Instead, the projection is that the right-wing Centre is hell-bent on making life miserable for Muslim minority. What is infiltration is persecution of minority Muslims in their eyes.
But I found The Telegraph worse. It has put Amit Shah’s speech as lead story of its edition today. The newspaper prepared me for its bigotry with the headline itself: “Shah shifts focus, assures all but one.” In the text, it quotes Shah: “I assure all refugees—Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Buddhist and Christian—that the government of India would not ask any one of them to leave the country.” The newspaper then adds a line of its own: “The home minister of the Union of India did not mention one community.”
The Telegraph, of course, was stoking the fears of Muslims. That they are being targeted by a “communal” right-wing government in the Centre. It was pulling wool over the eyes of its readers by blurring the distinction between refugees and infiltrators; between Citizenship Bill and NRC.
Citizenship Bill is aimed to provide shelter and dignity to lakhs of Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Buddhist and Christian refugees who have fled Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh due to religious persecution. NRC, on the other hand, is an exercise to stop infiltrators who have sneaked in into India and can’t be called refugees. In terms of definition too, refugees and infiltrators are two completely different things. Refugees are fleeing state persecution. Infiltrators are coming in with devious motives of their own.
But our newspapers are hell-bent in sensationalizing and distorting the ground reality. One has no way of checking Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s claim of 19 deaths so far due to NRC fears since her writ runs large in the state. But clearly she is desperately pulling all stops to ensure her Muslim vote bank stays intact. Politicans, who project themselves as protectors of a community, are known to heighten their fears and insecurities for their own benefit. What if lives are lost and families ruined in the narrative manufactured by them?
Most newspapers have given a miss that Amit Shah called out Mamata Banerjee on her doublespeak—she was the one who on August 4, 2005 demanded infiltrators be thrown out of Bengal in the state assembly. Now the shoe is in the other foot!
They have also left out Amit Shah’s perceptive comments on Bengal of today:
That at the time of independence and now, Bengal’s industrial production (27% then, 3.3% now), industrial jobs (28.9% then, 4.2% now), medicine production (70% then, 6% now), bank deposit numbers (22% then, 6.3% now) have shown staggering fall. That, those were the years when Bengal was known for its literature, music, religious and spiritual leaders, and scientists? “Where’s the Sonar Bangla we all dreamt about,” Shah had thundered, “Is this why you removed Communists?”
Shah touched a raw nerve of ruling dispensation of Bengal when it reminded the gathered audience in his unique, compelling way. “Are you happy that Article 370 is abrogated,” he asked the jam-packed stadium. As a deafening noise of approval went up, Shah chipped in with his punchline: “But do you know that TMC (MPs) walked out in protest when Article 370 was being abrogated in the Parliament,”?
The rising cultural assertion among the masses of Bengal led to BJP cornering 18 seats to 22 of TMC. “Now no one stop you from delaying the “visarjan” in Durga Puja…nobody has the guts to stop Durga Puja or Basant Puja, Saraswati Puja, Ramnavmi and Janmaashthmi,” said Shah which struck a chord with the audience. As is known, Mamta Banerjee postponed “visarjan” on more than one occasion to let muharram be observed on its scheduled date. Shaken by the 2019 general polls, she is now rushing and practically inaugurating every major Durga Puja pandal in the metropolis in her bid to woo Hindus.
Political battles are ok and certainly partisan but the nation is hurt when newspapers forsake their objectivity and neutrality. None have bothered to bring the larger picture of Shah’s address to its readers. Instead, the method is manipulation. None have questioned the shambolic law and order situation in the state. None have bothered to train their investigations on Narada, Sharada or Rose Valley scams. None have pointed out that at least 30 BJP members have been killed in the fourth months since 2019 General Polls.
(Post script: For the benefit of readers, here’s the link where you could see Amit Shah’s address in entirety).
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
India and Pakistan have started whipping up support in their corners as the Ring that is Jammu and Kashmir gets ready for a trade of punches.
Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan wants his people on the streets in solidarity against the rearranged status of Jammu and Kashmir while Narendra Modi is reserving the month of September for his ministers’ outreach to people in 35 state capitals and 370 cities.
The momentum is with India where Modi has secured a cheque of gratitude from a billion people and possibly from history too on the once intractable issue of Kashmir. He has second guessed almost everyone including the global powers, jihadi nuts in the Valley and secessionists forces within India. It’s nearly a month and India hasn’t fired a single bullet in anger.
Imran Khan is relying on propaganda and the good offices of China without realizing that slaves could only stare at the feet, and not go at the throat of the masters. It has a good ranch of guerillas, terrorists and Talibans but to take on world’s second largest army, bigger than United States, you need stallion and not jackass. Mooting closure of airspace could only evoke yawn. His dream of becoming prime minister is now a raging nightmare.
India’s enemies are investing much in the hope that Muftis and Abdullahs would be free soon and hold court; Valley would be put to flame and Lutyens Media would manufacture sob stories. For the moment, they have nothing but the sham cry of violations of human rights and India’s federal-structure-in-danger to keep stoking the dying embers.
When would Muftis and Abdullahs be set free? My guess is not in next four weeks. Modi government prefers embarrassment to harm. Half measures would come back to bite. You don’t do PR exercise with enemies. If the world can turn one eye away on Xinjiang in China; it could as well the other on Kashmir.
There is incremental easing up in Kashmir Valley. Landlines have been restored. Independence Day and Eid were celebrated. Journalists, despite the brouhaha, are getting passes to move around at will. Schools and Colleges have been reopened. It’s not to say Valley would be quiet. Muftis and Abdullahs could pay a heavy cost if flutes and music alone is the noise in their backyards.
There are a few things which the Modi government must follow as gospel. One, learn to ignore the barking dogs. Valley and Lutyens Media would be shooting from both sides of mouth. They must not be allowed to set the agenda. Give them a damn. Two, this outreach to people in September can’t be one-off thing. People need constant repeats on facts. Lose no opportunity, be it face-to-face, social media, spokespersons or editorials in newspapers. This is the only war your adversary would be engaging you in; so treat it as one. Three, name and shame the enemies within who run contrary to India’s interests. Three generations of this lobby has fattened itself on Kashmir. The cat is too fat now; it must be made to shed some weight.
I suspect Centre has hit upon an ace in raking up some high profile cases. So mournful is media on P. Chidambaram’s custody that Kashmir has been put on the backburner. The cases against Sharad Pawar and Ahmed Patel’s son too would shrink space on Kashmir. Heat has been turned on against Trinamool Congress (TMC). Three state elections in three months would further pull the rug under Kashmir’s feet. Why, when was the last you heard on “Jai Shri Ram” crimes and “lynchings”?
But this is just the first phase of preparedness. Kashmir is serious. Heads could roll in Pakistan’s establishment. Imran Khan could invite a fate similar to Nawaz Sharif. General Qamar Javed Bajwa has to justify his extension. United States could change tack in case it can’t summon India against China, Iran and Russia. So don’t take your eyes off. India has to handle Kashmir in real time. It could take months, years and even generations. But a start, a good one at that, has been made. And the nation can’t be thankful enough.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Trinamool Congress (TMC) is facing a meltdown in West Bengal. The cookie of Mamata Banerjee is crumbling. MLAs and Councillors have begun to jump the sinking ship. Kailash Vijayvarghiya, the state BJP chief, says this is just the first bunch—six more lots would follow in phases. Is BJP making a big mistake here?
Trinamool Congress prospered on desertions from CPI(M). It helped TMC end the rule of Left Front which had lasted for 34 years, beginning 1977. She promised the oppressed majority of Bengal “free air of democracy” and “growth” as the undercurrent of hostility against Left’s violent and anti-growth philosophy was palpable.
Those were the times when CPI (M) and its’ “terror regime” was omnipresent. Big Brother always watched. They decided on who you marry, how a family dispute should be settled, what you wear and what you read. The bureaucracy and the police didn’t move till local bosses asked them to. Something had to give way: It did in 2011.
Mamata Banerjee rode on people’s anger. Singur and Nandigram were the flashpoints. Masses were behind Mamata. Bengal soon had a new political icon. As Left began to decompose, desertions began en masse. TMC benefitted.
Now history is repeating itself. TMC is disintegrating. Men and women of TMC now, Left of past, are again jumping the ship. This unscrupulous lot would hurt BJP in more ways than one. Let me explain.
Let’s look at this present decade of Mamata Banerjee and her TMC. If anything, they are a far worse version of Left. The cadre of CPI(M) was at least disciplined. The factions were always papered over. But TMC is made of rival, deeply antagonistic factions. Different leaders within the ranks jostle for power over masses who suffer without mercy.
There is no point hedging the facts. For long TMC is accused of running “extortion rackets.” Leave aside realty sector, even an individual can’t spruce up his home without “cuts” to local goons. Even a cobbler had to rustle up in order to squat on the street. Chit-fund scams. Wealth of Abhishek Banerjee (nephew of Mamata Banerjee and apparently her successor). Terror. All have begun to have a cascading effect.
The state has watched how opposition couldn’t even file their papers in panchayat elections. Dozens of seats went uncontested to TMC. Police and bureaucracy is a mere extension to Mamata’s Raj. The appeasement of Muslims is brazen (Remember, how Mamata changed “ramdhenu” to “rongdhenu” in school textbooks?). Locally, Hindus feel suppressed to Muslim. There have been instances of stone-pelting on Ram Navami celebrations. Kaliachak riots. Muslim mob set upon police in Malda. Monthly stipends to imams/maulanas is state’s policy. Etc.
Thus it would be unwise for BJP to go for a poisoned chalice. Mamata Banerjee would go on her own. She is on her knees. Gone is the bravado. (Isn’t she coming to the Capital on Thursday for Narendra Modi’s oath ceremony? Isn’t she the same Mamata who didn’t pick up his phone in Fani cyclone distress? The same Mamata who called him “Expiry Date PM?” Who wanted him to be thrown out?)
Filth is never healthy. TMC turncoats are spoilt on naked use of power and violence. If they had looked for TMC, and not for self, the party wouldn’t have come to this sorry pass. These same men would wield the same obnoxious hold over local masses. They won’t appear reformed—Then-TMC-Now-BJP—to a common man. Rather, their very presence would evoke a sense of suppression. They would hurt the party discipline which is the essence of BJP.
BJP has so far been patient in dismantling Mamata Banerjee. They need more of such a dose. A rush for the trophy now would hurt them in not-too-distant a future. Mamata is collapsing on her own heap. You don’t need a storm when a rustle of air is enough.
(P.S: Meanwhile, has anyone heard from Derek O’ Brien? Is he still with Mamata Banerjee? He hasn’t tweeted since results came on May 23. I hope he is not in the next few lots. A motormouth, like Navjot Singh Sidhu and Randeep Soorjewala, his very presence would evoke revulsion amongst BJP-backers. )