Monday, July 29, 2013

Media's sudden love for Advani

The following article was written for Niti Central a long time back. Pasting it here for reference.
In the past one week, two unthinkable events have happened. One is Mr. Advani resigning for all posts in BJP citing reasons that implied that he didn’t approve of Modi’s rise, and the other (which is more shocking) – the left-liberal dominated media which hated all things BJP – has suddenly found virtues and has sympathised with Mr. Advani.
For brevity's sake, we will discuss only two articles, which pretty much summarize the contrived thought process of the Indian mainstream media.
One would have never imagined that a day would come wherein The Hindu would sympathize with L.K.Advani! Their editorial on the day after he resigned arrived at some bizzare conclusions - the first one being this:
Lumpen elements have long been part of the sangh parivar cadre. At the height of the Ayodhya movement, and with Mr. Advani in charge, they brought down the Babri Masjid. Twenty years later, a new generation of hecklers would turn up at Mr. Advani’s home, demanding that he accept Mr. Modi.
How can one possibly compare those who brought down the Babri Masjid to those who protested outside Advani’s house? And why is The Hindu calling them "hecklers" - why should protests against Advani invite such crude language in the first place? The BJP has disowned these protestors - maybe they were a political ploy too... but The Hindu is dead sure that these are "lumpen elements" from the Sangh Parivar.
And then comes a touching sympathy for Mr. Advani:
But even his critics will acknowledge his invaluable contribution to the growth of the BJP. For that reason alone, Mr. Advani, now 85 and at the fag end of a career of five decades, did not deserve being humiliated in the manner he has been.
Did not deserve to be humiliated? What exact "humiliation" has Mr. Advani been meted out? Is it The Hindu's contention that since Mr. Advani is absent or doesn't agree with the majority decision, the announcement of that decision has to be postponed? Going by that logic, The Hindu shouldn't have treated Ms. Malini Parthasarathy and N. Ravi the way it treated them during the appointment process of the current editor!
Speaking of Ms.Malini – she was one of the known vocal opponents of anything BJP. After nearly 2 decades of opposing BJP and all that it stood for, all of a sudden, she started finding virtues in Mr. Advani, merely because he is opposing Modi!
I am strongly wary of Hindutva as a doctrine but I think it's a mistake for BJP to sideline Advani. Like Vajpayee, he believes in tolerance.
If the BJP wants to remain in contention for power at the Centre, it can't afford to be polarising. That Advani and Vajpayee understand.
Their vision of a resurgent Hindutva still has space for other faiths but Modi's Hindutva has no room for the existence of other cultures

Coming back to The Hindu’s coverage, they go on to give some sagely advice:
The least the Gujarat Chief Minister himself could have done was to wait until Mr. Advani came around before going for the big prize.
Wait till when? Till the elections? And then go in leaderless into the election? The BJP is a political party and needs to prepare for imminent election - if the patriarch is in the way of planning, what should the party do then? Sulk along with him?
One of the many arguments that the anti-Modi brigade have espoused is that he is a deeply divisive figure. The Hindu reiterates the same:
Mr. Modi has so far been a deeply divisive figure and the Advani episode has revived all the doubts about his ability to lead an India distinguished by its diversity.
Suddenly, Mr. Advani’s opinion has become so sacrosant that his not accepting Mr. Modi’s elevation is further proof of diviseness! This whole concept of “being a deeply divisive figure” is in itself such a contrived argument, but that dicussion is for another time!
This article represents the second model of reporting/analysing that followed this crisis. Use Advani's position to berate Narendra Modi further! The author, Sagarika Ghose, who is also the deputy editor of CNN-IBN, has used this space to vent out her frustration on Modi further.
What kind of politics does Modi represent? Narendra Modi's economic model in Gujarat may be admired as business-friendly market economics.
As mentioned in another article earlier, Sagarika Ghose steadfastly refuses to acknowledge that Mr. Narendra Modi has ushered in a new phase of development in various fields and not just "business". She continues to mislead her readers by classifying his governance as "business-friendly market economics". But that's not the shocker. The shocker is:
But his political model in Gujarat is vintage Indira Gandhi. Perhaps LK Advani, always a man of the party, anti- Emergency warrior against the Congress for decades, senses precisely this.
Vintage Indira Gandhi? Are you confused by what she means by that? Don't worry, she gives a clarity somewhere else in the article. But note how she uses this argument to call Advani the "anti-Emergency warrior". There is no denying that he was, but there's no denying that even Modi was.
His political opponents have been vanquished in true Indira style - she says citing examples of a few leaders who have been sidelined in the BJP because of their rift with Modi. Some leaders get sidelined at the cost of others, within all political parties because of rifts; what's so special about this? Going by her logic, many political leaders within the BJP (including Mr. Advani) fit the bill of "true Indira style". However, what's bizzarre is the choice of the word - "vanquished". It speaks volumes about their unreasonable hatred towards Mr. Modi.
And she says the inevitable:
The BJP cut its teeth in anti-Emergency protests, but Moditva retains within itself traces of the Emergency. Modi is known for his trenchant attacks on the media....."
In one stroke, she compares the *actual* emergency clamped by Indira Gandhi to an imaginary situation that might arise if Modi is made Prime Minister. "Known for his trenchant attacks" is Sagarika's (and her ilks) way of telling that us that *they* are beyond criticism and reproach. Near the end of the article, she poses an imaginary question
With Modi's constant targeting of the media as "biased" will there come a time when a "biased" media is sought to be tamed just as Indira Gandhi once clamped down on an "anti-national" Press?
Whilst this ilk has never questioned the UPA government's intention to clamp down on dissenting voices (through say, Sec#66A), here they wish to imagine if Modi will tame them! Naivety certainly reached new depths with this kind of questioning. With such kind of arguments, it is supreme irony that in an ad by CNN-IBN, Ms. Sagarika Ghose is supposed to represent "Sense over Sensationalism"!


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