Chhodo kal ki baatein, kal ki baat puraani …………. So goes the song, this is what the BJP should be singing instead of Zindagi ...kaisi hai paheli, haaye. Kabhi to hansaaye kabhi ye rulaaye. Zindagi. ...” there is merit in both the songs.
We are treated to long debates, post mortems of results of national and state elections. Experts from the media, society and party spoke persons feed us with their considered opinions. We buy into them and go to sleep until next round of electioneering. In all these years never has the role of the media been scrutinized in detail, is it politically incorrect to inspect the role of the media, or is it a mine field, which deters these so called experts from delving into its role, a potent tool, when employed strategically can inflict immense damage on the opposition. Has our media been reporting factually, without bias for one or the other protagonist? Editorial are exempted from scrutiny as that forum is the personal domain of the Editor.
Unfortunately the answer is in the negative, the perception with us is that there is biased reporting in favor of one to the detriment of the other. The narration below is case study, how our media has reacted!
As an ordinary Indian whose primary source of information is the Electronic and the Print media in the country, which form the basis of a considered decision to support or oppose a political party or a combination, is severely affected due to motivated reportage.
The idea mooted by Mr. Nitin Gadkari in his maiden address at the ongoing conclave of the BJP in Indore to resolve an intractable issue between the two communities, has merit and deserves to be explored. Inherent qualities that this suggestion has, it speaks of reciprocity, it removes the idiom of them and us, stresses on Indians as a whole, mutual accommodation by both sides. The most important factor, possible removal of adjudication by a third party, which would lead to a triumphal discourse and pronouncements, by one or the other depending in whose favour the order is passed.
What transpired post this speech is something that every right thinking Indian would not just be concerned, rather dismayed by the presentation of this speech in the Print and Electronic media. Times of India and Hindustan Times ran the headlines as “Gadkari appeals Muslims to give up their Ayodhya claim” this was a conscious willful misrepresentation of the suggestion. Outlook 18th Feb 2010 also carried the story the headline was not similar though the opening lines had the same message. “Bringing to the fore yet again the party's pet issue, new BJP President Nitin Gadkari today said Ram temple in Ayodhya is its soul and appealed to the Muslims to adopt a "generous" attitude by giving up their claim on the disputed site.”
Indian express of the 19th Feb 2010 also carried the story this is what the article stated ““If I don’t mention it, I will be accused of reneging on the party’s core issues. The matter is sub judice, so I would not like to say much. But the ongoing research shows that there existed a Ram temple at the Ayodhya site. Ram is a symbol of our cultural nationalism, as also our heritage. I appeal to my Muslim brethren to give us the small stretch of land there so as to enable us to build a Ram temple. This would mark a new chapter (in Hindu-Muslim amity). We would help our brethren from the Muslim community to build a grand mosque at some other place,” said Gadkari to a thunderous applause from the 4,000-odd delegates attending the two-day national council here.”
The publications which have misrepresented this issue must explain their rationale to the people for this very obvious attempt at fermenting public disturbance. Do these publications not have the responsibility of reporting precisely and factually, what the president of a major national political party is saying? Are these publications a law unto themselves?
Indian Express stands out among the print media for staying with factual reporting which enhance their credibility with the public. I wish to convey my congratulations to this Newspaper for adhering to professional ethics that are absolutely important. Editorials are there for the print media to convey their views and mould public opinion and exercise their influence on the readers.
The electronic media component and it reactions to this suggestion CNNIBN on the 18th Feb 2010 posed the question “Does the BJP have a future?” A national party with 116 MPs in the Lok Sabha with Governments in 6 states by this party! Does it deserve this line of thought, moreover this is not the first instance that this Media House has indulged in this exercise. This makes one acutely aware that there is a definite undercurrent to somehow malign this party, constantly challenge it by broadcasting provocative programs. The overt attempt at influencing the young impressionable minds who accept at face value what the electronic media presents. The statements of guests on this show made it all the more disturbing, who were again harping on past incidents. Gujarat was there prior to 2002, is still there in 2010 and shall be there much after these two guests and many others among us have taken leave from this earth. History of Gujarat or BJP did not freeze in 2002. Just as it did not freeze, for Congress or Delhi in 1984 Sikh killings! Mr. Vinod Sharma commented on the choice of song “Zindagi ...kaisi hai paheli, haaye. Kabhi to hansaaye kabhi ye rulaaye. Zindagi. ... “sung by Mr. Gadkari and sang a few line of “Chhodo kal ki baatein, kal ki baat puraani Naye daur mein likhenge milkar nayi kahaani Hum hindustani, hum Hindustani” which in his opinion would have been more appropriate for Mr.Gadkari to sing. The question is why does Mr. Vinod Sharma not sing this very song his own self, instead of displaying pathological hatred towards BJP. Guess easier to sermonize that to practice. Critics are not necessarily the best friends, especially when they come with your mindset.
Mr. Vinod Sharma says BJP must change since the country needs a strong opposition. Surely Mr. Sharma is aware, those who sit on the opposition benches today have an equal right to be seated on the treasury benches, should the public deliver its mandate in their favor. This line of thought betrays a clear bias toward the BJP unhealthy for our democracy.Another argument forwarded by Mr. Sharma was on account of Dynastic Politics, his attempt at equating RSS to Nehru Gandhi clan is bizarre and hilarious, such a senior journalist has wantonly overlooked logic and is indulging in forwarding specious argument on behalf of a political party. Those who are in the media would have to discharge their duties with lot more care, in an absolutely neutral manner, than was visible, lesser said about the other guest from The Hindu on this show the better.
Why does CNN IBN not report on the developmental work undertaken by the state governments of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and other states, where BJP has formed the government on their own or in alliance with other parties, is it because they have been commissioned for negative reporting on BJP.
Timesnow went into its usual hyper drive questioning the rationale of reviving the Hindutva agenda by BJP. Since when have the media house been empowered for the policies and ideologies of the political parties. Mr. Farooqui was unwilling to listen, was shrill when he spoke the arguments were equally juvenile to say the least. He is entitled to his views no one can fault him for that. One only wishes that the new suggestion on the table be considered before being dismissed.
It was a very pleasant surprise, that Dr. Chandan Mitra and Mr. Ravi Shanker Prasad besides being precise were at their combative best, people have been waiting for this avatar of a spokesperson from BJP, for once they scored heavily with the public and why not BJP deserves to be congratulated for this suggestion. The seeds have been sown! Await the germination to happen, who knows a new dawn could be on the horizon for this party and the country.
NDTV since I do not watch the channel on regular basis I am unaware if they have run any special show, going by the standard set by Indian Express it would be safe to conclude that this channel also should be following a somber line on this issue. The studied silence by NDTV could also be construed, not enough negativity on the plate from BJP to be played up so ignore the event, with minor comments, will have a similar impact.
A conclusion without the reaction of the congress would amount to a half baked dish. Mr. Tiwari has nothing other than a singular tune that he sings moment BJP, Modi or Gujarat is mentioned. Absolutely 2002 he is another individual who is stuck in a time warp.
This suggestion requires the support of the people of this country from both the faiths, not to discuss the genesis or the past events. We need to explore how to move forward and convert this into a reality. This is only possible if we leave behind the hardliners and the self appointed caretakers and spokes people from both sides.