This article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference.
The Hindu’s front page report on Monday, a day after PM Modi’s Mann ki Baat on All India Radio, said, “PM maintains ‘radio silence’ over allegations”. For the past 15 days or more, a section of media along with the Congress and the Left have been asking why the Prime Minister is silent over “grave” allegations against a senior Minister in his Cabinet and a BJP Chief Minister. Some editorials even went to the extent of saying that there is nothing wrong with what happened, but the Ministers should have resigned to take a high moral ground, and then the PM should have rejected them, and the matter would have ended peacefully.
Let’s first take a quick look at the “grave” allegations and the manner in which various news channels told us that someone or the other is resigning any moment now.
TIMES NOW raked up the issue first – Sushma Swaraj wrote to the UK in favour of Lalit Modi. How can she write a favorable letter to a man absconding, a fugitive etc? Sushma Swaraj gave a detailed clarification, the UK government gave a detailed clarification, and other commentators have explained the issue in far more detail, so we will not dig further. All other channels followed suit – boring the viewers to death. Suffice to say, there really was no serious issue that warranted a clarion call for resignation of Sushma Swaraj.
So now the media and the Congress needed a new villain. And the new target was Vasundhara Raje Scindia, the Chief Minister of Rajasthan. She apparently wrote an affidavit in support of Lalit Modi and asked for it to stay confidential. And the shouting match continued. How can she sign for Lalit Modi – an absconder, a fugitive etc? Turns out the affidavit was in 2011; signed in her personal capacity; not absolving him of any “crime” per se.
Now what to do? So they bring up an investment that Lalit Modi made in one of the companies owned by Dushyant Singh, Vasundhara’s son. Dushyant later “gifted” Rs. 32,000 worth of shares at Rs. 10/- per share to his mother. These shares were earlier purchased by Lalit Modi at Rs. 96,000/- per share. Vasundhara is therefore a partner in a company that Lalit Modi has invested in – a BIG SCAM has happened and therefore she has to resign!
The charade continues till date – every single day something or the other is being discussed just for the sake of discussing. TIMES NOW went so bombastic that they have linked the reduction of VAT by the Rajasthan government to favoring Lalit Modi!
Another time they mentioned that the Rajasthan government thanked Gadkari – the below image is self-explanatory about the blatant lies that this group is spreading (and notice how the media is rank silent when such lies are propagated by their ilk).
Amidst this background, the new chorus is this – Why is the Prime Minister silent? Er, because there is no case here to speak? The megalomaniac nature of English TV news channels has become so dangerous that they now begin to think that they are the final authority in deciding what the PM should and shouldn’t speak!
Last month, when this government completed one year in office, one of the most stringent criticism was that OROP was still not implemented. There were debates, dharnas, petitions signed by the veterans – all seeking a speedy implementation of OROP. This was also dominating the news cycle at that time (and I don’t mean just the English news TV). The Prime Minister, in his Mann ki Baat, addressed this issue. He agreed that he underestimated the complexity involved; sought a little more time given this complexity and assured that OROP would be implemented, come what may. The Prime Minister basically chose to address an issue dominating the news cycle because it had merit – this was about the nearly 23 lakh veterans and their 40-year-old fight. What merit exists in the cases now being espoused by the English TV media over the past 15 days?
The Prime Minister has been speaking and spreading the message of government’s new financial inclusion schemes (or insurance, Jan Dhan etc); he has been speaking on Smart Cities, AMRUT, Housing for all; he has been speaking on rain water harvesting; he has been speaking on technology in agriculture; he will speak on Digital India; the unparalleled success of #IncredibleIndia and the #SelfiewithDaughter explains how well he has spoken and connected with the masses. The message is simple – he will speak on anything that matters to the Indian public and not on what a section of media chooses to fret upon.
Let me draw your attention back to The Hindu report, by highlighting a few sub-headings.
The focus is clear – it’s about policies and policies alone. The mundane noises without substantive proof will not cut ice with this government.
Another stark contrast is the manner in which this same section of media has maintained stoic silence in questioning Sonia Gandhi, back when she was in power. We have even lost track of the number of times we heard the “Sonia is upset, say sources”! Today, they want to create an issue and then demand that the Prime Minister respond immediately. They believe that earlier resignations in the UPA happened because the media asked for them! This megalomania is distressing to note. You think I am exaggerating? Sample this tweet from Rajdeep Sardesai then!
By the way, I don’t believe the Prime Minister has been silent on this “crucial” matter. TIMES NOW broke the story exactly one week before International Yoga Day. On every single day leading to the Yoga Day, they claimed that Sushma Swaraj will either resign or will be fired. The PM replied by ensuring that Sushma Swaraj represents India at the UN on Yoga Day. And then she went to Nepal for a World Sanskrit Conference. She continues to discharge her duties as the External Affairs Minister of India. Vasundhara Raje attended a meeting of the sub-group of the NITI Aayog. She continues to discharge her duties as the Chief Minister of Rajasthan. He did not have to come out and say anything more!
PS: I could not help but notice the stark contrast between the coverage of the NITI Aayog sub-group meet by an English newspaper and a Telugu newspaper.