Sunday, July 26, 2015

Hot Air from The Hindu to inflate Rahul’s comeback trial balloon?

The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference.

Ever since Rahul Gandhi came back from his 56-day vacation, I have observed a sea change in the language how The Hindu has been reporting his utterances and appearances. While I do understand that his speeches will have to be covered, the language used to describe his speeches and reactions would sometimes reach very high fawning levels! I attempt to discuss some of such reports that are present in the collage below.
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The Hindu wrote this news analysis, after the Parliament session was over.
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A session which saw more than 100 per cent productivity in both the lower and the upper houses! The government does not have a majority in the upper house and yet managed greater productivity. The Hindu does not find this impressive; instead the author says, “The just concluded Budget session may have demonstrated once again the ruling dispensation’s deftness in using its numbers to move its legislative agenda forward. But its lack of regard for parliamentary decorum and, despite its best efforts to divide the Opposition, its relations with those who sit across the floor in Parliament hit rock bottom in the closing days of the just-concluded Budget session.
First of all, the assumption that the Opposition is always united is flawed. To blame the ruling party to garner number to push its agenda (for which it has been voted for) is childish. To celebrate the opposition’s attempts to block the functioning of the Parliament is even more childish!
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On a slow news day, The Hindu decided to again tell us how awesome Rahul Gandhi has been. It tells us that “He recently launched a padyatra … met farmers…travelled to different states” – for someone without background knowledge, this report might misinform him that he travelled on foot across various states! I have written here earlier on how this “padayatra” is a hop-in-hop-out tour for Rahul Gandhi.
The report also tells us that sources have told The Hindu that he is “interested in building a “greater momentum” on the political campaign against the Modi government’s land acquisition ordinance and the agrarian distress”. Rahul Gandhi has been out of the country from June 21 – yet again. This surely is a great way to build a greater momentum!
However, what I found hilarious was this article on his visit to Kerala.
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We are told that Rahul Gandhi took two “major initiatives” in his two-day visit to Kerala. Kerala is ruled by a Congress-led coalition. So when you read a phrase like “major initiatives”, one would assume he had detailed discussion with the government on something. Instead, we are told that these “major initiatives” were to meet rubber farmers and fishermen! That’s it – “meeting” is now classified as “major initiatives”.
The report tells us that the rubber farmers have been going through a tough time and the government has already done a lot of things for them. Report doesn’t tell us what Rahul told them and what he promised them. What the report however tells us is that the fishermen will be affected by a Modi government decision and Rahul’s promise to take it up will resolve all their problems! Perhaps time for all of us to redefine what “major initiatives” now means.
The media is every so happy to pick up the Rs. 10 lakh suit lie that Rahul so happily propagates.
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This report, like many others, happily prints what Rahul says with no explanation as to whether he is speaking the truth or fabricating a lie. As long as the perception gets across, the media was more than happy to propagate this lie.
Next, let’s observe the tone of this front page headline.
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It’s as if Rahul’s vows have bought so much significant change in lives of people he met! The report says that “Championing middle class concerns a significant shift for Rahul”. What are these “concerns” of the middle class? The report tells us that his trek to Kedarnath and his question on net neutrality in the Lok Sabha point out to this new trend! Leave aside Rahul championing the causes of various sections – it definitely looks like The Hindu is trending towards “championing” the cause of Rahul Gandhi!
Next, we look at a comment that would have embarrassed any other political leader in the entire world. But since Rahul was criticizing the RSS, The Hindu happily front paged it (and had another similar report in Page10, on the same day).
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Rahul Gandhi’s grudge was that RSS inculcates too much discipline in its cadre, and the Congress cadre must go all out to stop this. He specifically asked them to replace the “order of the shakha, with the disorder of the Congress”. Like I told earlier, in any other country, the media would have taken the politician to task – but here, we get fawning headlines in the front page.
Rahul Gandhi also made fun of the meeting of the Prime Minister with former PM Manmohan Singh, saying Modi was taking lessons from MMS because he didn’t know how to handle the economy. The Hindu also told us that this comment drew a “roar of laughter” from the audience.
That he chose to politicize a wonderful gesture of PM Modi in inviting all former PMs to meet him upon completion of one year exposes the crass nature of the party. That the media fawned over that statement without bothering to point out the obvious flaw in it shows us clearly where the priorities lie.
It is one thing to have front page news that focusses on politics, even if that means pushing one’s agenda. But it was amusing to read the news of him joining twitter:
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First of all, it was not Rahul Gandhi who debuted on twitter! It was ‘OfficeofRG’, and the only purpose of the twitter handle is to put out statements of Rahul Gandhi and also his itinerary. Does this news really warrant the front page coverage?
Now, Rahul Gandhi is on a second vacation. I am dreading to think what all I will have to read once he is back AGAIN!


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