The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference.
The recent viral video of serial liar Arvind Kejriwal asking Punya Prasun Bajpai to play up sections of his interview is not the only proof of friendly media exaggeration of Arvind Kejriwal’s theatrics. Many other instances have been happening that require the attention of the reader. This article aims to give some more examples of such co-operation of the media with Arvind Kejriwal.
“If there is an element of exaggeration in what he (Arvind Kejriwal) says, it does not matter because electoral politics is shaped to a great extent by public perception.”
This exceptional defence of Arvind Kejriwal’s statements did not come from any AAP spokesperson. It came from prominent columnist in The Hindu, Vidya Subrahmaniam. She and her ilk have continuously bombarded us with claims of how Modi exaggerates development in Gujarat. This group even spent a lot of ink coming up with obscure numbers in an attempt to criticise Modi. Today, miraculously, Vidya Subrahmaniam says that the exaggerations by Arvind Kejriwal do not matter!
First of all, I take strong objection to the usage of the word ‘if’ in the statement “If there is an element of exaggeration.” Instances of Arvind Kejriwal exaggerating are so many that it will become a Herculean task to list them all. We use the word ‘if’, only when the instances are few and far between. Everything Arvind Kejriwal says is an exaggeration. Recently in Gujarat, he even paid homage to three RTI activists. The only problem being that these three people were alive, hale and hearty. That is the level to which this man can stoop in order to exaggerate. But for Vidya Subrahmaniam, this is okay because what matters is perception. The same perception with which they had a problem earlier.
Today’s centre-page article in The Hindu by Vidya Subrahmaniam is more revealing. She takes up a strong defence of Arvind Kejriwal’s recent antics in Gujarat. It is almost as if it was she who coached him to do and say all the things he did in Gujarat. Sample this:
“By declaring war on the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate directly and boldly questioning his friendship with the big corporates, Arvind Kejriwal has signalled a historic shift in the trajectory of India’s anti-corruption campaign.”
Phew! Hard to believe that so much bunk can be fitted in one sentence! “Friendship with big corporates” = “Anti-Corruption campaign” must be ranked as one of the most unimaginative, unintelligent comparison ever to have happened. Throwing in random unrelated questions to Adani’s rise or Ambani’s wealth to Narendra Modi’s silence or friendship is a cheap way of “declaring war”.
Arvind Kejriwal’s rise in media is precisely because of this kind of low-quality analysis and biased narrative that we have been fed with.All Kejriwal needs to do is to pose a question – the reality behind it doesn’t matter to this ilk; the content in it doesn’t matter to this ilk. Arvind Kejriwal merely wants to plant the seeds of doubt, and this ilk is more than happy to lend a helping hand to him. No wonder they think that exaggeration does not matter. Theviral video of Kejriwal talking to the editor of AAJ TAKis another prime example – this ilk is more than willing to help Kejriwal in winning the “perception” campaign – let not the real content come in the way of this chicanery!
It continues to baffle me as to how Kejriwal manages to get so much coverage – totally disproportionate to the power he wields. Sample this report on IBN Live:
"Arvind Kejriwal dares Narendra Modi in his own den, calls him a liar.”
The entire report reads like written by someone who is a fanatical AAP supporter, in the guise of being a reporter! First off, many politicians have called Modi a liar. Many politicians have “dared”Narendra Modi in Gujarat - “his own den”. What is so big about Arvind Kejriwal doing it? Are they implying that no one else did it before? Gujarat is a State, not someone’s fiefdom, to be referred as “his den”. Tomorrow if someone were to criticise the Prime Minister of this country, is he/she doing it from the Prime Minister’s “own den”?
The second and third paragraphs in this article will put any objective journalist to shame. It starts with “Arvind Kejriwal has done his homework well” and ends with “His claims drew applause and cheer from the crowd.” And he just mentioned issues that were in the news for a long time – from when did parroting news items become equivalent to “doing homework well”? And here’s another important and pertinent question – if IBN can write such fawning articles, why don’t they have articles that criticise this man with equal fervour?
There is no end to the deification of Arvind Kejriwal by these media groups. Sample this front page report in The Hindu recently.
AAP-media nexus, dangerous combo for democratic India
The headline talks about J Jayalalithaa’s call to Mamata Banerjee, but the graphic highlights Arvind Kejriwal’s and Modi’s picture”. It says Kejriwal “prevented”from meeting Modi! He did not have an appointment; he was throwing around some farcical questions to Modi; and The Hindu feels that he was “prevented” from meeting Modi. Is this the “exaggeration” that they are ok to peddle? Because this “element of exaggeration” will definitely help them in the perception war!
Or see this report, where they say Arvind Kejriwal addressed a “huge gathering”. Do you want to know what the “element of exaggeration” in this report is? Please see this report!
IBN Live conducted a debate last night on whether the AAP was being hypocritical in giving tickets to journalists; in soliciting the media on what to telecast and yet deriding the media day in and day out. They called Ashish Khaitan – well know Modi-baiter and now AAP’s candidate for New Delhi. Also on the panel was Nirmala Seetharaman. The uneven match aside, it is important to hear what Ashish Khaitan tells Rajdeep Sardesai in the beginning,“We all know how newsrooms function”! We, the viewers don’t know! The viewer simply assumes that the editor/journalist is being unbiased – but he simply spilled the beans! And then Ashish goes on to ask the most hilarious question of recent times (he actually repeats it some 10 times, changing the words) – “Why is there no scrutiny of Gujarat”. Whom is Ashish Khaitan kidding? Have we all not been witness to the malicious campaign on Modi, with Ashish Khaitan being one of the most prominent members to do it? Yet, with a straight face, he asks why there is no scrutiny of Gujarat? What more scrutiny does he want?
And lastly, Rajdeep Sardesai tries to paint the “all political parties are same” argument. He (conveniently) forgets that the AAP told us that they are different, and will do things differently. Why are they being allowed to get away with “We are doing the same as others” argument? Because some “element of exaggeration” is ok?