The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference.
On May 30, 2010, thirteen coaches of the Howrah-Kurla Jnaneswari Express were derailed in West Bengal. A goods train later rammed into these coaches, resulting in the deaths of more than 140 people. Basically what happened was that the tracks on which the ill-fated train was, were removed by Maoists. After the train derailed, a goods train coming from the other side rammed into this train. Some would call this sabotage, some would call this a terrorist act. Either way, everyone would want the people behind this attack to be brought to justice. No one would even want to associate themselves with the perpetrators of this crime.
A couple of days after this attack, a PCAPA (People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities) leader had this to say:
“We are sorry. We never wanted these innocent civilians to die. Trust me, we targeted the goods train. But somehow, we were fed wrong information that the goods train would cross through this track and we removed pandrol clips from a long stretch. We did not want to harm civilians. There must have been some miscalculation.”
You read it right – the Maoist leader “apologised” for messing up their “target”. Anyways, the CBI made some arrests, and the State police also announced rewards for some leaders of PCAPA.
On August 9 of the same year, the then Union Railway Minister and President of All India Trinamool Congress, Mamata Banerjee held a rally in Lalgarh (the bastion of Maoists). Maoists are known for their call to boycott mainstream politicians and the entire democratic process as well. Typically, one would assume that a mainstream politician and holder of such high office in the Union of India would hold a rally defying them. But in this case, she did it with the support of Maoists and with the support of the same group PCAPA. The same group that has accepted responsibility for removing the tracks, and later “apologised” for their “goof-up”. Take a look at this picture – the PCAPA terrorist who has a Rs 1 lakh reward on his head is shown leading a gang to the rally of Mamata Banerjee.
We didn’t hear a squeal from any of the leading media groups. For example, The Hindu was quick to remind us in an editorial that Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti holds a high office and therefore deserves to be sacked for talking whatever she talked about. No editorial admonishing the then Union Railway Minister for taking support from the very same group that derailed two trains and caused the deaths of 141 people.
Remember how we have been bored to death on how Modi walked out of a Karan Thapar interview? In May 2012, Mamata Banerjee was invited for a town hall interaction by CNN-IBN. A few students asked her uncomfortable questions. Her response? Watch this video:
She calls the students CPM cadre and Maoists. She not only refuses to answer the questions but also walks out of the interaction. Do you recall any media house picking this up? Do you recall any talking head of the media sermonising us on Twitter on how intolerant she is, and how such people are bad for democracy?
Of late, Mamata Banerjee and the West Bengal Government have been in the news for various reasons. Primary amongst these are the various and violent acts of TMC cadre against BJP cadre; growing terrorist activities in the State (that prompted a visit by the NSA himself); high profile arrests (MPs belonging to TMC) in the Saradha Chit Fund scam. Pretty serious charges all of these are – some might say.
Amidst this, last month, Sagarika Ghose, the very same person from whose interview she walked out, had this to say:
“Love her, hate her Mamata Banerjee is a natural born leader who gives as good as she gets. #Respect “
See that? Take a look at Sagarika Ghose’s timeline over the years – she is “shocked” over anything bad remotely connected to the BJP. But is fascinated by the acts of everyone else, even if they are clearly on the wrong side!
We haven’t heard a single demand from the media’s talking heads asking Mamata Banerjee to reign in her cadre. This lot goes all out demanding that Modi apologise for random acts of random people on Twitter (remember, no physical harm has been committed on Twitter!). We haven’t been witness to talk shows that remind us of the “high constitutional office” that Mamata Banerjee holds. Bombs have been found “allegedly” at TMC party offices and no demand for a statement from Mamata Banerjee has been demanded! Instead, there is happiness that she “gives as good as she gets”.
National President of the BJP, Amit Shah was denied permission by Mamata to hold a rally in Kolkata – no cries of “stifling of voices” heard from the media. It took the High Court to allow permission for the rally. If Sonia Gandhi was refused permission to hold a rally in Goa, I can’t even begin to imagine the hell that will break lose in the media. All this is ok because she “gives as good as she gets”.
Mamata Banerjee goes about blaming everything and anything on the opposition (sometimes it is the Left, sometimes it is the BJP). Her own MPs are being charge-sheeted in what is touted as one of the biggest scams in India. Cadre is enthused by her speeches blaming Opposition parties, maybe even they feel that she “gives as good as she gets”. Trinamool’s official spokesperson, Derek O Brien, goes about using words like “a$$ licker” on Twitter, but the media talking heads revel in such posh usage.
Recently, Mamata Banerjee used the phrase “pechoney baash”. It means pushing a bamboo up your rear. In any decent conversation, such usage is definitely an abuse. Here’s how one media talking head, Sunetra Choudhury of NDTV, reacts:
“my bengali friends will like this one- Mamata Banerjee just said ‘pechoney baash’ on TV :)) “
This sums up the problem with the discourse of our media. Terms like “high constitutional office”, “oath of office”, “decency”, “responsibility” etc apply only to those from the BJP. We all have seen how Mamta’s tantrums during her partnership with UPA derailed the progress of the country. We have been witness to her high-handed behaviour dating back to as early as 2010! We have seen traits of her dictatorial approach towards her opponents. We have seen her inclination to merely mimic the Congress in areas like minority appeasement. Yet, she is not even remotely held to the same high standards that a MoS is currently being held to. What explains this duplicity by the media?