The following article was written for Niti Central. Reposting it here for reference :)
Predictable behaviour is boring. It ceases to cause surprise or shock either. After a while, it starts to border on the ridiculous. And that's precisely the border on which sections of the Indian media are, right now!
Even before the Congress party could think and respond to queries posed by Narendra Modi on Sonia Gandhi's travel expenses, these folks swooped in and started defending the pious icon of India. Ok my mistake - those queries were not posed by Narendra Modi. Those queries were posed in an RTI query back in 2009. Narendra Modi merely bought that to the notice of the country. Ah, the stupid "facts" at play here again!
All hell broke lose in the TV studios – how dare he question her? Without sharing a copy of the newspaper report, debates went on and on. A copy of the report can be found here. But for our divas, the figure became "Modi's figure".
Within minutes, the media located the RTI activist who was quick to deny that received any response for his RTI application! The next obvious question would be - why no response for 3years? But then obvious and our TV media don't go together, so the cliched "Blow to Modi" headline was back in action!
Narendra Modi never ever mentioned about the Sonia’s treatment, yet IBN took the liberty to accuse him of that too.
Meanwhile Narendra Modi has said that he is ready to take back his accusation - all that the Government of India has to do is reply to that RTI. The "Blow to Modi" headline got a second life within a matter of hours!
Playing victimhood comes naturally to Congress, so they (along with media) started twisting this as an inhuman attempt by Modi to cash in on Sonia Gandhi's reported "illness". Narendra Modi didn't give up. He made yet another attempt to very clearly explain what his demand was. Listen to this video - clarity cannot get simpler than this (from 15:05 to 18:15). Why is the government not replying to the RTI? He also says that he is not questioning the medical expenses of Sonia Gandhi; says that we must pay whatever it costs for her health. He is merely asking the government of India to tell it’s citizens how much was spent on Sonia's foreign travels since 2004.
Sonia Gandhi did not respond to any of these queries. Narendra Modi though was unrelenting. NDTV wrote a brilliant piece on this "tit-for-tat". In their assessment, Narendra Modi "did not return" Sonia Gandhi's “favour” of not mentioning him in her address at a rally! An article with a headline that screamed "Modi unrelenting" ends up talking about Sonia's speech, FDI in retail, BJP's opposition to it and what not! The assessment did not end there - they had a 28 minute discussion on the topic and titled it - "Is Narendra Modi's attack on Sonia Gandhi a sign of nervousness?"
Please, don't ask us where in the world did "nervousness" come into the picture here! That's the quality of assessment in our media. However, media's best was yet to come. It happened today in the form of an editorial in The Hindu (where else!). Titled “(Mis)treating Ms. Gandhi”, this editorial is a work of art.
"....Sonia Gandhi’s foreign travels in recent years, often for medical treatment." Oh boy! The Hindu throws all facts into the dustbin, and tells us that Sonia's foreign travels in "recent years" was "often for medical treatment". How recent is "recent"? They won't tell you, for that implies giving out numbers. How does The Hindu know that the travel often was for medical treatment?
"...on the basis of an unsourced newspaper report" Unsourced? The source of the report was a government agency itself!
"That he chose to score points off a political rival’s illness shows the moral depths he is prepared to plumb in his pursuit of power." He has explained in the simplest possible language that he is not questioning the illness. He is questioning why an RTI that seeks to know information about her foreign travels and related expenditure is not pending. Yet, Siddarth Varadarajan throws all norms to the winds and concludes this is a moral depth that Modi is plunging into.
The said RTI was filed in 2010. Well before we knew about Sonia Gandhi's medical condition. Instead of telling his readers about that RTI application, Siddarth Varadarajan made a vain and cheap attempt to cheat his readers. The editorial concludes that all this controversy has erupted because an "impenetrable veil of secrecy" is woven around Sonia Gandhi, which is undesirable. Yet bizzarely, someone who questions this secrecy is putting his foot in the mouth!
In all this melee - no one has yet dared to pose the real question - why is the RTI reply still pending from the government?