Monday, June 25, 2012

President's election: Open Letter to Karan Thapar and IBN.

Dear IBN,

Going through the news cycle last week, it was just incomprehensible to me as to why many media personalities were deriding the fact that P.A.Sangma has decided to fight the Presidential elections against Pranab Mukherjee. Last night, I was aghast after reading this interview transcript of Karan Thapar with Sangma. 

After dedicating a substantial first part of the interview to just word-play, Mr. Karan Thapar lands up with this: 

"...but they are laughing at the fact that you believe that you can win

And then: 

"Are you a little worried that by standing in the face of such odds and they are incredible odds, you might make yourself a laughing stock?"

Laughing Stock? When Captain Lakshmi Sehgal contested against Dr. Kalam in 2002, did she become a laughing stock? Can you point us to an article/interview/show where you felt the same thing about her? 

When B.S.Shekhawat contested against Pratibha Patil in 2007, did he become a laughing stock? Can you point us to an article/interview/show where you felt the same thing about him? 

If anything of this didn't happen, may we know as to why you have bestowed this honour on Mr. Sangma? 

When one is interviewing a candidate for elections, we expect that the questions will be based on the issues - issues that the candidate is for and against. I think that is pretty much a common sense expectation. How does Karan Thapar fare in that aspect? Let's take a look.

"You are standing on behalf of tribals, you are a practising Christian and yet you are seeking support from the BJP, whose position on the Khandhamal killings, Dang killings, the massacre of Graham Staines, is anything but supportive of tribals and Christians, how do you explain that contradiction?"

Please read the above question again and again, because that is a very very loaded questions filled with so many contradictions. Now, let me paste it again emphasizing some points.

"You are standing on behalf of tribals, you are a practising Christian and yet you are seeking support from the BJP, whose position on the Khandhamal killings, Dang killings, the massacre of Graham Staines, is anything but supportive of tribals and Christians, how do you explain that contradiction?"

Karan Thapar tells P.A.Sangma he is "standing on behalf of tribals".  What has Sangma done for tribals? How do the tribals feel about Sangma's track record? What, in Sangma's views are the problems faced by tribals? How will his becoming President benefit the tribals? - Do you see any of these questions? (An earlier interview by Rajdeep was on similar lines - concentrating more on the "opportunism" of Mr. Sangma. Only two questions on tribals. The central point of the whole interview though was why Sangma is even contesting). No. Instead, what do you get? 

Karan Thapar decides to get communal and reminds Sangma that he is a "practising Christian" and therefore it is not fathomable that he can support or take support from the BJP! In one stroke, the genius that is Karan Thapar, judged all those "practising Christians" who have voted for the BJP. And then he goes on to say that the BJP is anything "but supportive of tribals and christians". We are therefore to believe that Karan Thapar has no agenda. 

The agenda for the rest of the interview is now set - Karan Thapar goes on to deride BJP and then brings in Jayalalitha's anti-conversion bill into the picture. He provokes Sangma (quite distressingly) saying that that bill was against "your church". We are therefore to believe that Karan Thapar has no agenda. 

After some more distressful questioning, these take the cake. 

Karan Thapar: Let’s come to the next question. You have been speaker of the Lok Sabha. You have been Chief Minister of Meghalaya. You have been a very honourable Cabinet minister. Why are you throwing all of that away behind a pipedream?

PA Sangma: I am not. I am just asserting my right as a citizen of India, as a tribal, as a person coming from the North East.

Karan Thapar: But you could assert it in some other area. Asserting your right in an area where you are certain to lose, to me seems irrational. 

I don't understand why losing a race is such an "irrational" thing. The interviewer, who apparently has no agenda, thinks Mr. Sangma is being irrational by fighting this election because he is anyway going to lose. But Mr. Karan Thapar, what good is a democracy without debate and contest? 

And this tendency of deriding Sangma for "irrationality" is not from Karan Thapar alone. Almost the entire IBN clan of journos seem to be echoing the same disgust. 

Two tweets in quick succession by the constitutional expert, Bhupendra Chaube. 

1. Parties with sangma: bjp+bjd+jayalalithaa+akali dal. That's just 27%. Left parties and mamtaa could well abstain. Why the contest then?
2. Suspect nda strategy way off the mark this time. There is a wave against the congress across india, but u need to be able to encash it

I am really keen to learn and encash on Bhupendra Chaube's political acumen. If he believes there is a "wave against the congress across india", what exactly are the opposition parties expected to do? Not support the Congress candidate right? Isn't that what they are doing? If there is a "wave against the congress across india", how come all you journos are so vehemently supporting the chief Congress strategist and their main trouble-shooter, Pranab Mukherjee? Are you folks not going against "the wave" ? You folks have tirelessly told us what a genius Pranab Mukherjee is - then why is he not held accountable for the "wave against congress across india" ? 

No debate is complete without Sagarika Ghose pitching in. 

1Will Sangma uphold hindutva? ‪#justasking‬

She will never ask : "Will Pranab uphold corruption"

The near total absence of scrutiny of Pranab's candidature is so undesirable. All we get are platitudes from these media folks. Apparently Pranab has an amazing memory:

Sagarika Ghose: Pranab Mukherjee has one of the most encyclopedic memories..from the minutiae of pre Independence politics to present day..amazing!
Pallavi GhoshPranab knows the constitution, rule book by heart..tough for the cong to get anyone like him to be ldr of lok sabha

Lesson learnt: Sharp political memory is one of the main criteria for candidates for President. 

And finally, the editor-in-chief of IBN, Rajdeep Sardesai:

Sangma ensured of his 30 days of fame. good luck!

Fine, but why do we need a contest at all?

So far, not one media house even told us the pros and cons of Pranab Mukherjee (ok, I stand corrected, many pros were told!). He was a minister during the emergency - he not only saw the emergency, he helped in implementing all the draconian laws and measures then. What are his views about it? Does he regret them? Does he think the Emergency was a blot on India? What are his three best achievements as Minister of Finance? As Minister of Defence? As Minister of External Affairs? As the leader of 2 successive Lok Sabhas? Have you heard of these? Especially when he is a Congress minister and there is a "wave against the congress across india"? 

The people need to know the ideas that the candidates represent. The people need to know the views of candidates on multiple issues that might confront them. The people need to know the track records of the candidates. Only a contest can ensure that the people get to know about the candidates. So what if one of them is going to lose? Atleast, the people of this country will have had much more information at their disposal. Perhaps such contests will pave way for a more meaningful debate in the future. In 2007, when Arun Shourie exposed Pratibha Patil's murky bank and land deals, he was scoffed at. Look at where we are right now?  

Sangma will lose 2012, but he would have set up a stronger platform for a 2014 defeat of the Congress. Sangma would have probably laid a platform for future different Presidential elections and debates. And that's precisely why we need a contest. Nothing "irrational" about it. 

PS: The letter is only to IBN. I haven't watched any other news channel on this. 


Anonymous said...

Excellent article. Congress knows it's going to lose 2014 and wants a president of it's choice to try and keep messing with the BJP

Dhirendra said...

Very good article indeed. sudhir you r very dedicated hardworking journalist. Your blog has views on every significant omission/ comission of Main stream media (Tv/Paper). You r doing a great job as JOURNALIST. All the best.

sumit said...

nice one.. let us know if you hear from them.

sumeetteemus said...

Nice one. Well observed and very well phrased questions. May be Karan Thapar and Rajdeep can take some leaf out of this open letter.

Gujju by heart said...

Very nice article.
did you receive any response from IBN ?

Unknown said...

Very excelent article

Anonymous said...

Excellent article. Major media houses are sold to congress.. which is very clear. Social media is helping people know the truth.

Rakesh Singh said...

Dear Sudhir,

Excellent post. I watched the whole interview and felt outraged by the the types of questions asked. I think Sangma was extremely graceful, and handled the stupidity of KT really well, especially reminding KT about the 'tool' in the hands of...

Sonu said...

When Mr Sangma told thapar thatevery media including Mr. Thapar are tool in hands of some or other then there was no further question on that topic. I think Thapar will think twice before he will interview Sangma.

Roberto el Sandriano said...

Excellent write-up Sudhir.
Seriously I haven't seen a single write-up/debate in media critically examining the candidature of Pranab. Media has made it look like you/me got lucky to have Pranab as President.
Why hasn't a single soul on the idiot box asked Pranab why cannot he be expected to be biased given his decades of Congress background in his new executive role, if at all he get there?


Anonymous said...

Why they don't ask same question to MMS. He's Sikh and congress is anything but sikh supporter ..

ravindra rajput said...

Excellent write up..I too saw the same interview and had hundreds of questions running in my mind why the hell these journos are supoorting Pranab and trying to pull down Sangma who is showing a fight.
We all know democracy is strengthened by such elections and if you ask me personally I will prefer Sangma over Pranab since Pranab has been a big flop over the years in whatver he has done.He may have saved Congress on various fronts but did nothing for the country.
In current situation when India's economy is slumping thanks to Pranab,he is taking easy route of running away in rastrpati bhawavn... What a looser he is.On top of that he has been facing serious charges of corruption against himself which will not be investigated once he becomes President.

prashhanthkpp said...

Excellent point to ponder, as is usual of you, your honor!!

CNN IBN's frequent encounters with misguidance, possibly emanating from lack of quality material absent in Sagarika and Rajdeep or lack of diligence and prudence as is with Karan Thapar, is only too obvious for the nation to take note of any NEWS coming through them as serious! Sagarika could have become a better cosmetic Model [in her prime], Rajdeep a better cricketer and Karan Thapar a irrelevant college lecturer by their displayed standards.
Karan, where he himself advocates the devil in him, mostly comes with half baked facts and figures when interviewing luminaries thinking perhaps his Doon/Cambridge/Oxford bred English would supersede the caliber sitting in front of him. Yes - it would to a Lalu or a Mulayam or a Paswan or a Antony. He was reminded of his minuscule capability by Arun Jaitley, Ram Jethmalini, Narendra Modi and Jayalalitha who all but famously walked out of his so called interviews.

I would like to see either Sonia Gandhi or Rahul or both being interviewed by Karan - i.e. if he has the audacity and guts to do it. But then, even if he does, that would be predetermined and oozing of all the glories the Gandhis themselves wouldn't have guesstimated! Karan and the Nation forgets the past easily or conveniently. If not, a revisit to emergency days would have rekindled memories to expose Pranab's credentials sufficiently to disqualify him from the coveted post. But we do suffer from short memories and those who are supposed to remind us, the PaidMedia, stick to loyalty to their paymasters.

An insult to Sangma, indeed it is. But hope it paves the way for a strong BJP to emerge with this tactful support.

Thank you, your honor! :)

Shailendra said...

Wonderful. I just cant take this Karan thapas any more. doesnt he looks into the mirror while he asks question

sandeep said...

Real good letter..
How I wish we could have more people like you in politics ? Atleast someone who could 'think' on his own..!!

Anonymous said...

amazing article ! Logical queries :)

Anonymous said...

very informative post indeed.. being enrolled in, Online Video Coaching I was looking for such articles online to assist me.. and your post helped me a lot :)

Madhav Mishra said...

sexy article!

Arunincy said...

Nice Try,Excellent article

zincoshine said...

Good one Sudhir. No new blogs offlate?

Dirt Digger said...

Intelligent points as usual on an important topic. Unfortunately you are raising it to a bunch of baboons with a serious agenda to undermine any democratic political process that can tilt the power away from the NDA.
The media has been corrupted to the core, but needs to be asked the hard questions and held accountable. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Great work. I am highly obliged that you are sharing current affairs of 2012 of india with us. I really like that you are posting on daily basis and that too with good typical news which i didn't get from anywhere. Being IAS aspirant at, i really appreciate your work

Anonymous said...

Good One! Did you watch Karan Thapar on Anna movement? Very clear agenda. Movement was against corruption. He never asked question about that.

veerabadra said...

good article. i had been feeling the same with sagarika gosh,rajdeep ,choubey and karan thapar . they are all touts employed by congress /.shameless

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