indian express

Deepawali defiance has a grave message

We all know Supreme Court was mocked disdainfully by the citizens on Deepawali as firecrackers dinned in our ears till wee hours next day. There was no adherence to time slots; no indulgence by stealth; a few selfies in social media of individuals standing over the bomb-scraps as a hunter would over a sprawled killed tiger.

This was a serious matter. The vaporous, poisonous air of the Capital was unlikely to get better. The long arm of law loomed big. Spending the Festival of Lights behind a cold, bleak and dark lock-up isn’t quite one’s idea of an adventure. Yet here were citizens thumbing their nose in disdain; preferring faith over law.

Police, it would appear, had given up on enforcement long before it was breached by millions. How do you patrol lanes and streets; verandahs or terraces? Only when fellow residents complained about violating neighbours, did the cops reluctantly hauled themselves up for action. Ignoring a breach was tantamount to risking their own jobs.

The citizens apparently have drawn a line in the sand. They risked legal censure, incarceration, a possible blot on their careers. But let nobody, not even the supreme judicial whip of the land, come between them and their faith.

Even Lutyens’ media couldn’t ignore the masses’ contumacy. Hindustan Times made it a lead story of their edition aptly headlining “Ban Goes Up In Smoke…”. The Times of India too made it the day’s biggest headline, “Most Flout…” The Hindu noted in headline: “Supreme Court restrictions on crackers violated.”

Indian Express was another matter. It chose the story of stray arrests over people’s defiance.  Not a line in their front-page story mentioned of grave violation of Supreme Court order by the masses. All they did was to report how many were booked for violation of the ban across the country.  As if to warn its readers that they would be literally playing with fire next year; as if to engulf them by a sense of fear.   What ought to have been a moment of reflection for them, or judiciary for violating people’s faith, was lost in the enthusiasm to show the punitive arm of the state.

Indian Express ought to have paid heed to their former editor Shekhar Gupta who slammed the judiciary for coming between the people and their faith. In trying to enforce what is un-enforceable. “Do you really see police in our various states entering households, arresting and prosecuting people,” wrote Gupta, admittedly in the wake of Sabrimala, no different from Deepawali in legal crosshair.

So complex, traditional and long-held are the beliefs of millions that Supreme Court is best adviced to leave citizens alone on the matter of religion. Upholding the Constitution on gender equality and grave societal matters is one thing; wading into centuries-long faith is quite another. One shouldn’t come at the cost of the other. And as we know from last year, banning firecrackers didn’t help the Capital’s poisonous air. The known reasons—stubble burning, construction, sand-debris bearing trucks, car emissions—remain unattended. That sends the wrong message of being selective in fight against pollution. More so when the ban, barring a small window of two hours, was not for Delhi NCR alone but covered the entire country.

All this does is to undermine the authority of the judiciary. Judiciary against citizens has only one winner. More so when whispers start gaining volume that Hindus are under a sustained attack on their faith and practices in their own land.

Deepawali, a joyous festival, is second to none in a Hindu calendar, carrying an ethical lesson on good lording over the evil in the form of their supreme deity, Ram. Tragically, the news in newspapers is about seizing of firecrackers, violations and arrests, with the same sense of foreboding as bomb-attacks in our cities, seizures of cache of rifles, machine guns or handcuffed terrorists. It’s a classic case of solutions being worse than the malady.

 

Rahul Gandhi now leaves Indian Muslims in lurch

If I was an Indian Muslim, I would have a whole lot of questions today and certainly no answers.

So far, I believed in the pictures of Rahul Gandhi, skull cap and all, in Iftar party breaking his fast, so to speak, at sunset during a day in the Ramadan month. His remarks that Congress is a party of Muslims. Now, I read he said Tuesday in Indore that his party is one of Hinduism.

It raised a whole lot of issues to my mind. Does Congress stand for Muslims, Dalits, Hindus or everyone. So far I have been told the only protectors Muslims have are Congress. They engineered a special protection for my Jammu and Kashmir brethrens and sisters in Indian Constitution. They stood up for Sharia during the Shah Bano case; are most determined for Rohingya refugees; paralyzed the country on Kathua tragedy; stalled the Triple Talaq bill, spotlight every single–half or full–lynching incident in the remotest hamlets of the country. Now they say they are one of Hinduism.

All this while, they dubbed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as sectarian and communal even though Narendra Modi never once said he stood only for Hindus. Isn’t Rahul Gandhi now being communal by opening claiming his party is one of Hinduism? Isn’t it polarizing the communities? Widening the gulf of fear and insecurity between practitioners of two religions? Is this the vision of One India or daring of a burglar who wishes to rob the home of 1.3 billions of all its valuables?

Then I look at my newspapers. My day begins with Indian Express, the “journalism of courage.” For the last four years and half, they have reported every single incident against my Muslim community, and Dalits, with sincerity and not a little bit of imagination and creativity. They have marked anniversaries of Dadri, Pehlu or a Junaid by sacrificing the space for news of their front pages. They made sure my Muslim community didn’t forget for a single day the crimes which have been committed against them during the Modi regime (Nor did they Una or Bhima-Koregaon on behalf of Dalits). Indian Express seemed seriously concerned about the future of Indian Muslims.

And look at them, now that Rahul Gandhi has jumped the ship, to my eyes at least, Indian Express choose to completely blank out his Indore comment in today’s edition (31.10.2018). Why didn’t they report Rahul Gandhi for his communal and polarizing comment? Why did they desert me and million of Indian Muslims like me who dread a majoritarian narrative in this country? Could Indian Express be said to be standing up to the idea of secular, free and equal India? Just imagine if Modi had said BJP stands only for Hinduism? (They haven’t allowed him to live down the Kabristan-Shamsaan speech to this day).

If I could ask Indian Express why for a similar offence, BJP is communal and Congress is not. Why give ammunition to right-wingers who claim there is never a pro-Hindu story on your front pages? Why make even your die-hard fans like me and other Indian Muslims doubt your sincerity when you sweep Rahul Gandhi’s all-for-Hinduism comment under the carpet?

I’ve tried to give my faith in Indian Express a second chance. What if your reporter truly miss the Indore event? Extremely unlikely for Rahul didn’t offer his comment in private. It was a press conference. Even if your reporter missed the event, news agencies such as PTI must have brought the news on your teleprinters. On close inspection, I even find this Indore press conference of offensive-comment buried inside your newspaper (Page 8).

Then why did you throw a cloak on this Rahul remark from our views? Why have double standards on BJP and Congress? If you care about us Indian Muslims or the idea of India that you numb our minds daily with, why avoid the searchlight on Mr Rahul Gandhi? Is that an editorial policy or a direction you receive from “Above”? And who’s this “Above”? Does this “Above” have the welfare of us Indian Muslims or India as a whole in mind?

These are all very disturbing questions to my mind. I hope Indian Express takes my fears in the form of questions to Rahul Gandhi. Ask its editorial writers from JNU and Ashoka University; Kancha Ilaiahs or Apoorvanands, to prove they truly speak for us minorities. That their propagation of free and secular India is not fake. Scratch the surface of Kapil Sibal and Shashi Tharoor who are never out of your reach, or representation, in your newspaper on a daily basis.  You could even evoke write-ups from retired professionals such as Justice Fali S. Nariman or Chelameswar, ex-cop Julio Ribeiro, ex-election commissioner S.Y. Quraishi etc who don’t even need an invitation to fill your editorial pages.

After all, you are “journalism of courage.” You profess to stand up for us minorities. You claim to care for a free and secular India. The proof of burden that  you don’t write on behalf of Muslims and Dalits only when it suits you.

Hope Express has not let Vishal Bhardwaj down

Indian Express is letting itself down so badly on the ethics of journalism that it’s a cause for concern for its loyal readers, more so since the Press Council of India (PCI) and Editors’ Guild appears an acquiescing party due to its silence.

Indian Express has a bottom-spread on its Monday’s Delhi edition where excerpts of film-maker Vishal Bhardwaj’s comments at Express Adda are quoted. The headline states: “TV News comedy circus…maybe Cinema must tell truth” (attributed to Bhardwaj).

However, Bharadwaj’s quote in the text-copy of the story states: “…present-day journalism…feels like a comedy show, it’s like a comedy circus.” Nowhere, Bhardwaj mentions TV news. He mentions present-day journalism. The readers have no way of knowing if Bhardwaj didn’t have Indian Express itself in mind, for all you know.

I suggest readers to read the full story.  Real quotes are added and subtracted to expand or reduce the newspaper’s own agenda/interpretation. For example, see this para below:

That was one of Bollywood’s most political filmmakers, Vishal Bhardwaj, opening up at the Express Adda Friday on why the industry hesitates to speak up when political controversies impact mainstream films such as Ae Dil E Mushkil, which faced calls for bans due to the casting of a Pakistani actor, and Padmavat, which withstood protests for its portrayal of Rajput queen Padmavati.

I have no way of knowing if Bhardwaj did take the name of films such as Ae Dil E Mushkil or Padmavat to make his point (for the full interview would only appear later this week) or whether the newspaper is adding this name to buttress its point/agenda. The above para of the newspaper insinuates he did though I seriously doubt so.

Xxx

Same is the case in another front page story Indian Express has on Monday, headlined: Godhra line in book: FIR against four for “misleading students on beloved PM.” This is on an academic book in circulation in Assam.

Just looking at this headline, it would appear the state is trying to muzzle the freedom of speech, neutrality of academic-text books, all because PM Narendra Modi has been portrayed in poor light.

Indian Express, in its report, doesn’t touch the concerned “line in book” till they are in the second-half of the story. The first half is all about a “well-known…90-year-old renowned publisher” and a description of three authors who have been “heads of political science department” of established colleges in Assam. (Shades of a certain retired son of a headmaster in the Valley by the name of Burhan Wani).

So here comes the relevant para on Godhra in the book which offended a couple of citizens enough to file an FIR against the authors and publishers:

“In this incident (burning of coach) 57 persons died including women and children. On the suspicion that Muslims were behind the incident, next day Muslims were mercilessly attacked in different parts of Gujarat. This violence continued for over a month and over a thousand people were killed. Most of those killed were Muslims. Significantly at the time of the violence, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government was a silent spectator. Morever, there were allegations that the state administration helped the Hindus.”

Now let’s look at the FIR which states: “It’s well-known to you that Special Investigation Team (Sit) under the supervision of Supreme Court gave clean-sheet on PM Narendra Modi (sic) dated September 12, 2011, on the issue.”

Aren’t the complainants appear rightful on all counts to go ahead and file the FIR? By terming Modi government as silent spectator, aren’t authors suggesting complicity even as the Supreme Court gave a verdict to the contrary, giving clean chit to Modi, no less than seven years back? Doesn’t such mis-representation would only potentially lead to Hindu-Muslims tensions, may be communal clash and certainly a polarization between the two largest religious groups in the country? And what about the innocent children who are thus poisoned by half-truths? In a state, as sensitive to Hindu-Muslim polarization as Assam is?

Not a day passes by when I don’t read such reports in Indian Express which makes me squirm in my chair. As a practicing journalist, I see one guiding hand behind the reporters, sub-editors, headline-givers and positioning of stories on front-pages making them work in sync in antipathy to BJP/RSS. Whosoever this hand is: An activist editor, his employer and his leanings, or the forces keeping the newspaper in an ideological bind or otherwise, the fact is, it is anything but journalism. And that’s a betrayal most heinous to its readers by any newspaper in circulation.

 

How the propaganda against RSS falls flat on its face

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Indian Express has two voices which do not like RSS or BJP or Hindu resurgence in India. You scroll down articles of either Christophe Jaffrelot or Ashutosh Varshney and get the drift. Jaffrelot is more scholarly and dense; Varshney more sound and less substance. Both are present in Indian Express of today, dominating two separate pages.

Jaffrelot is the crudest today than he has perhaps ever been in his long association with the Indian Express. All the veneers of scholarly nuances are out of the window. What remains is a pen-pusher who is unsure of his dwindling influence over the readers or his promoters. The crux of his agenda is that lynchings is orchestrated by the present dispensation who appear in different garbs at different times: RSS, its affiliates, BJP etc. He terms it the “deep state.” Everything that’s wrong with Modi’s India—the “cruelty” against Muslims and Dalits—is part of a larger design. In his view, India is a theocratic state in the making.

To Jaffrelot’s misfortune, Varshney has a detailed interview on Page 25 with Waltern Andersen who has a new book, “The RSS: A view to the inside” in the market. It completely debunks Jaffrelot’s argument that RSS and its affiliates are the “deep state” in India. Indeed, Varshney couldn’t have done a better service to RSS or BJP with this interview (a must read, I say).

Now Varshney must not have bargained for it but the Andersen interview is a validation of RSS. All Indian Express could do was to pick a comment as headline: “A battle between Hindutva and Hinduism is coming.” I will reserve dwelling on this headline in the end: I promise the irony in it would have you doubling up in uncontrollable laughter.

The interview first establishes the credentials of Andersen: the only scholar to have observed the RSS for five decades. Then Varshney rolls out the questions which reflect his own venom:

  • What about RSS chief MS Golwalkar and his book, “We, our nationhood defined.”
  • For Savarkar, Muslims and Christians born in India were not Indians/Hindus
  • What pledge pracharaks take? Can they marry? (An answer hopefully which would nail Modi, himself was a pracharak)
  • RSS influences state and its’ policies
  • What is RSS views on Modi’s economics
  • RSS is committed to promotion of Hindi as language
  • What is RSS view on ideal Hindu women, and divorce
  • The RSS relationship with Muslims
  • How does RSS integrate lower caste? What is RSS views on Ambedkar who was anti-Hindu?

You would agree these are the questions which reflect the entire gamut on RSS; the basis of the misinformation campaign which writers of the ilk of Jaffrelot and Varshney spread with impunity. And now look at how Andersen replies to this mal-propaganda.

  • “We, our nationhood defined” I later learnt was not his (Golwalkar’s) book;
  • Savarkar, as you know, was an atheist (while you were told he was a hardcore Hindu zealot!). For MD Deoras everybody born in India was Hindu. He was against caste system and untouchability; non-Brahmans could be pracharaks;
  • They (pracharaks) take ascetic pledge; some do marry. It’s a casteless Hindu monastic order;
  • That’s inevitable since you have to deal with government in all spheres, all activities. Government is all pervasive in India. But Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) is opposed to FDI; while Modi is all for it;
  • Demonetisation and GST directly hurts their (RSS) base. But RSS has not passed a resolution against it;
  • It can not and it does not (promote Hindi). RSS schools teach their pupils in their mother tongue; RSS could not have simultaneously sought a rise in India’s national strength and continued its strident attacks on English;
  • Wife and mother have ideal role in society; but they also idolize Rani ki Jhansi. Both images have existed;
  • When Deoras invited Muslims to join the RSS, he did argue that Muslims were mostly India-born, and therefore Indian;

And now to the final question (RSS on lower caste and Ambedkar); its’ answer on which Indian Express has based its headline: “A battle between Hindutva and Hinduism is coming.”

Andersen explains: “There have been Dalits and OBC pracharaks, including the OBC Narendra Modi…Ambedkar is now a hero…Hindutva emphasizes one-ness of Hindus; (Hinduism is more rigid, by inference). Hence there will be a battle between Hindutva and Hinduism.”

Did you get the joke? This definition of Hindutva and Hinduism completely turns on the head what the likes of Shashi Tharoor and Digvijay Singh have been drumming in our ears. That “I-am-a-Hindu-but-have-a-distaste-for-Hindutva.” In their view Hindutva is reactionary and violent. But as Andersen tells us, Hindutva implies inclusiveness of all!!!

That’s why I say identify these jokers. Identify the agenda they have. Identify the mistruths they spread. The “farragos” and “whatabouteries.” And save this piece as evidence when the next misinformation campaign against RSS and BJP is served inside the pages of your newspapers.

(P.S: let me imagine a scenario: “What did you do mate,” Jaffrelot to Varshney on phone, “and to my `deep state’ theory.”)

Rahul-Kejriwal saga: What Lutyens Media didn’t tell you

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

I bet most of you wouldn’t know it. For most of you read Indian Express, Times of India and Hindustan Times. And none of them carried the news that Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chose to abstain from voting on Rajya Sabha deputy chair on Thursday because Rahul Gandhi didn’t made a CALL to Arvind Kejriwal.

Indian Express, as usual, was the master of obfuscation. Buried deep down in their long story was one line:“AAP did a volte-face Thursday declaring it would support the Congress if Rahul Gandhi requested Arvind Kejriwal.” Indian Express never tells it readers that Rahul Gandhi never called!!! Instead, the newspaper terms it as “volte-face” on the part of AAP. Bravo.

First, the facts. AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, to all and sundry, spoke words which must have been acid to the ears of our Lutyens Media. Why did Sanjay Singh say? He said to the media an evening before on Wednesday that if Congress needed AAP’s support, its’ president Rahul Gandhi himself should make a call to Kejriwal.

But Rahul didn’t. And Sanjay wasn’t holding back his venom a day later on Thursday: “Congress is the biggest hurdle to Opposition unity. How will he (Rahul Gandhi) ensure the victory of his candidate if he cannot ask for votes?” It hurt AAP all the more that JDU chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar didn’t think it below his dignity to personally call up Kejriwal and seek support for NDA candidate,Harivansh Narayan Singh. “If Nitish could ask for support for his candidate, why not Rahul,” Singh said “When he (Rahul) can hug PM Modi, why can’t he ask Arvind Kejriwal to support his party’s candidate?” None of these damaging words, I can assure, you would find in these mentioned three English dailies.

Explosive, isn’t it? The news betrays a horde of staggering facts: (a) Opposition unity is going nowhere and Congress could be its biggest stumbling block; (b) Rahul Gandhi is arrogant; (c) BJP could’ve a cake-walk, come 2019 General Elections. And we are not even talking of the cascading effect it could’ve had on the forthcoming elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh in the remaining four months of 2018.

And yet it isn’t important to Lutyens Media? It writes reams and reams of columns on how BSP-SP combine would turn the tables on BJP; splashes pictures of opposition leaders holding aloft hands in Karnataka; berates HD Kumaraswamy on art of managing ally such as Congress; tears its lungs out on how Nitish and Modi are drifting apart; yet it finds Congress-AAP fall out no big deal. Strange, isn’t it. I mean Modi’s arrogance to allies is causing splits such as with TDP;  but Rahul Gandhi’s nonchalance to Arvind Kejriwal is no arrogance and still good news for “mahagathbandhan”. See how dumb these newspapers think we are?

To be sure, these hacks of Lutyens Media know how to cover their tracks. So you search hard on internet, and you would find link to these stories, howsoever vague they are in description. Times of India, Hindustan Times and Indian Express do have taken note on internet. But it’s only a technical and legal defense; they have blanked it on their newsprint where their real audience is. I would be happy and ready to apologize if readers or these newspapers itself could point to any such coverage of Sanjay Singh’s reactions in their Delhi/Noida editions. I, for myself, found no such news in their newspapers.

There is a still bigger question which must trouble the sensibility of all readers. It couldn’t be the news never reached the teleprinter rooms of these newspapers. I mean the news was covered by Press Trust of India (PTI). Logically, any news desk would dread missing out on such an important story. I mean ask any journalist, he is taken to cleaners by his editor or served a show-cause notice for such a miss. But here not one, all three newspapers collectively spiked the story. It could be a coincidence; or someone takes decisions on behalf of these newspapers—your guess is as good as mine.

The pretence of “mahagathbandhan” must persist. The act of fooling paying-readers must go on. Meanwhile, you can count on Press Council of India (PCI) and Editors’ Guild to look the other way. And these guys want to “Save the Democracy” in India even while striking with hammers and axes at its fourth pillar, called Media.

Why is media losing sleep over Justice KM Joseph

(This is a reprint from NewsBred)

Something doesn’t seem right here. All the four major English dailies—Indian Express, The Hindu, Times of India, Hindustan Times—today (August 6, 2018) have a front-page blockbuster story of “some” Supreme Court judges planning to corner Chief Justice of India (CJI) Deepak Misra on Monday over the “downgrade” of Justice KM Joseph.

A background is necessary: The President of India has cleared Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee, Orissa HC CJ Vineet Saran and Uttarakhand HC CJ KM Joseph as judges of the Supreme Court. However, Joseph has been put last in the list of seniority and this has got the hackles up for a few Supreme Court judges, as these pious newspapers claim.

You could belong to one of the three categories below:

 

(a) A complete innocent on the “judicial-activism-of-Supreme-Court-kind” who would instantly ask if this is true and whether the Centre has indeed been manipulative.

(b) A general reader who probably knows that government had asked SC collegium to reconsider Joseph’s name but after being re-recommended by the SC, has now acceded to their request.

(c) A keen hawk of Indian politics who knows all about the “puppets” (i.e. media) and their “masters” (Left-Liberal lobby).

 

If you are a complete innocent then it’s important to know that the government is strictly going by the book. As per Article 124 (2) of the Constitution, The President may but is not obliged to consult Supreme Court judges. As for seniority, KM Joseph is least senior amongst the three in terms of dates when they were appointed High Court judges (see image). I leave it to you what to make out of the unnamed judges plea that “Joseph must be recommended senior-most since his name was recommended first.” What logic? Juvenile, I say.

Now, if you are one from the second category, a general reader who knows basic details, you are still wondering why there’s so much of fuss over Joseph’s name. Well the media tells you that’s because as Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice, he overturned the President’s Rule in the state two years ago (and that’s why the Modi government is being vindictive). It might help you to know that as per law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad at that time, there are presently 11 more Chief Justices of various HC who are senior to Joseph; and that Kerala HC already has a judge in the SC.

And finally, if you are in the third category, a keen hawk, you would dribble out a few simple questions: How come all the newspapers have same story and same detail without anyone being named? Was there a press conference? Did all those Supreme Court judges who intend to corner CJI Deepak Misra on Monday rang up newspaper offices? Or is it there is a “diktat” to our Lutyens’ Media to roll out the story as they have been told? Or whether a favourable judge today could be a difference between imprisonment and freedom for those out on bails or being pursued by state agencies such as Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Quite clearly, it’s the last option which seems most plausible. Does the “deep state” of India, read long-ruling Left-Liberal combine who control media and academia in this country, have the ears, if not the pockets, of both judiciary and media? May be they are doing out of fear. Or they are compromised. One thing though could be said with certainty: in this harmonica, all the notes are one and coming out of a single mouth.

The danger is acute. Supreme Court seems to be exercising its overreach; it’s getting into the crosshairs of executive, that’s government. A showdown is not far off. As the SC/ST Act has shown, the government is prepared to reverse a SC ruling when it suspects an intrusion into their authority and responsibility. More such repeats could happen.

Supreme Court must appear neutral; never show bias or prejudice or overreach for people are beginning to impute motives. It should never be seen doing a PR exercise. The people have noticed how a press conference by a few honourable SC judges was not criticized; how shamelessly an “impeachment” notice against CJI was moved; how retirement of SC judges—from `packers and movers” to full-page interviews—was covered; or how the KM Joseph non-issue is being given wind to by Lutyens media and their masters.

Who cares if long-established norms and institutions are brought down, anarchy is served for course and blood is your drinks for the night…

 

 

 

Why nobody is allowed to criticize Sonia Gandhi

Take a deep breath and reflect who you are not allowed to criticize in India. I could think of no other than Sonia Gandhi, former Congress and UPA chairperson. Run the entire gamut, pore over the worksheet of honchos of Indian media, Shekhar Gupta, Barkha Dutt, Vir Sanghvi, Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghose etc; google as you might; dive into the archives of Lutyens Media like Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, The Hindu; Sonia Gandhi, much like Caesar’s wife, has been above reproach.

That’s astounding. I mean nobody has been the president of 134-year-old Congress longer than her (19 years); she got her party two consecutive Lok Sabha victories; a whole lot of scams were unearthed; yet not a word against her. I mean yes, BJP and her bete noire Dr. Subramaniam Swamy keep pelting her windows but that’s par for course for any opposition. But what accounts for no “black sheep” within Congress bleating ever? No media house opening its edit pages for trenchant views; no historian/academician offering critiques? No scholarly paper in JNU? No diagnosis on a person out on bail?

I do recall two embarrassing Sonia interviews, that is for any self-respecting journalist, by Rajdeep Sardesai (he kept saying “fought like a tigress,” both in 2005 and 2016), as it was for Aroon Purie on another occasion, coy and adolescent.  Yes Shekhar Gupta (“she keeps a formidable dynasty on her slender shoulders,”), Barkha Dutt (“she has made a public commitment to Women’s Reservation Bill”) have also interviewed her;  Vir Sanghvi has been profound in “Nobody-in-Nehru-Gandhi-Family-Has-Given-Kind-of-Authority-she-has-to Manmohan-Singh,” echoed by a gushing Sagarika Ghose ( “She never undermined Manmohan Singh, always backed him up”). Both Sanghvi and Ghose don’t touch upon how another Prime Minister, PV Narasimha Rao, was humiliated, even in death. And these clowns happily go toting about “bhakts” to everyone else. Phew.

Two books on Sonia immediately come to my mind. One is a pathetic account by a sychophant;  another is “Red Sari” which was unofficially banned in India for six years due to machinations by Abhishek Sanghvi, as alleged by its author.

There was though one voice of dissent which was muzzled without much ado by this “deep state” in India. Margaret Alva, a former Union minister of state and Governor, was quite scathing in her autobiography: “Courage and Commitment:” Excerpts:

“While Pilot, Prasada and Scindia got all the honours due to them as Congress leaders—with shamianas erected at the AICC to receive their remains before the last rites—PV Narasimha Rao, the tallest of them all, was denied a state funeral in Delhi. His body was not even let into the AICC compound; instead, the gun carriage carrying the former Prime Minister and Congress President was parked on the pavement outside the gates, with chairs lined for party leaders. I was shocked…ever since, I have regretted not protesting and walking away.” – On PV Narasimha Rao’s death in 2004

Alva details that she played a peacebroker between Sonia and Rao: the latter falling out probably for deciding to appeal against the Delhi High Court’s decision to quash a complaint against the Bofors case. Sonia Gandhi once retorted to Alva: “What does the Prime Minister want to do? Send me to jail?”

Alva’s outburst about the unfair ticket distribution in Karnataka led to her ouster. She was asked to resign from the post of All-India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in 2009. In her resignation, Alva wrote thus:

“Times have changed and for the first time I have come to feel like a misfit in an organization that I considered as precious as my own home. A look at our recent candidates lists show a distinct patter of patronages to the wealthy and rich lobbies like mining, education and real-estate…”

Just reflect on the above in line of recent Karnataka assembly elections and ponder why no newspaper or media celebrity ever brought this book out of the shelves to examine Congress’ candidates in 2018? Why Congress’ demise in the state is not looked through the prism which Alva afforded us?

As per one reviewer of the book: “Alva’s book offers an amazing insight into the maneuverings of 10 Janpath—the home of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Without being too harsh, Alva clearly indicts Gandhi for lacking transparency in her manner of functioning, her penchant for surrounding herself with a handful of loyalists…”.

Alva was made to leave Delhi, appointed as she was governor of Uttarakhand. In her words: “Once I had made the mistake of saying: `The Alvas are the only political family to have a member in Parliament without a break for almost half a century.’ This statement sealed our fate.”

(As an aside, Alva was Governor of Rajasthan when Narendra Modi came to power in 2014. Alva describes her meeting with Modi thus: `I told him I had come to pay my respects, not plead for an extension, adding `I am not prepared to quit anytime.’ “There is no question,” He (Modi) replied. “You are doing a good job please continue where you are.” She was subsequently given additional charge of Goa and Gujarat!).

Assam’s NRC: All you need to know and which media doesn’t tell you

It’s possible looking at wall-to-wall coverage of Assam’s National Register for Citizens (NRC) final draft in our newspapers that you believe a Hindu nationalist party in the Centre is rendering lakhs of unfortunate Muslims homeless.

It’s also possible that you believe in the blood-curdling call of Mamata Banerjee and fear that a civil war would reach our doorsteps.

It’s quite possible tears are welling up in your eyes at the graphic coverage of Indian Express about unfortunate victims rendered illegal in one stroke.

It’s possible you are breaking out in a sweat over the prospects of another “Partition” as snakes-in-the-sleeve come out writhing in the mud.

It’s quite possible your respect for Congress has gone a millimeter up after they gave adjournment notice in the Lok Sabha over the matter.

My advisory to you is to shove this all in the nearest bin or spare your toilet roll. You need to know that this exercise has been mandated by the Supreme Court (and not Modi government); that it’s just a draft; that no NRC exercise has been taken up after 1951 (sic); that Congress had itself promised so in the Assam Accord of 1985; and that Mamata Banerjee back in 2005 had herself wanted the illegal Bangladesh immigrants identified. In case you want to know everything there is to know about illegal migrants in Assam over the centuries and the present, just to make sure this nonsense doesn’t waste an extra second of yours from now, read this piece and no further.

If nothing, please pay heed to Home Minister Rajnath Singh who has stressed “it’s just a draft” and nobody is going to a “detention centre.”

You could also bear this basic question in mind in case your office-colleagues are thumping your desk down: All the regional leaders who are shedding copious tears on “poor” illegal migrants of Assam– “refugee in own country,” as per Mamata — whether their own people in state would welcome these 40 lakh illegals in their fold.

All things point to nothing materially changing for illegal migrants post release of second draft of NRC. One, India doesn’t have an agreement with Bangladesh in place (our eastern neighbours don’t even acknowledge influx of illegal migrants from its stable); Two, a porous border allows an extradited illegal migrant to return without hassle; Three, many lakhs of illegal immigrants are already spread all over the country, especially in metropolis such as Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai. Who keeps tab on them?

Sooner than later though, illegal migrants must be taken off the election rolls; ways must be found to give refuge to millions of fleeing Hindus (and other Indic minority sects) from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh with full citizenship status (without worrying about Rohingyas or Human Right Activists—for Hindus have only India to turn to while Muslims and Christians have dozens of own doors to knock around the world); and illegal migrants legally committed not to indulge in political or religious subversive acts.

Lutyens Media are now at Kumaraswamy’s throat

Coincidences do happen. Both Times of India and Hindustan Times took the editorial route to chide HD Kumaraswamy on Tuesday. Next day, an Indian Express edit scolded the Karnataka chief minister. All three hags from the Lutyens’ Media were fuming.  All three were lecturing HDK to understand the “reality” of coalition. To understand that as a senior party, Congress has a right to be a bull in the china shop.  All coincidences, isn’t it.

Hindustan Times felt it’s nothing but drama from Kumaraswamy. Strange, for Arvind Kejriwal has been doing his “drama” for four years and yet escaped HT’s attention. The newspaper cited roads, power supply, garbage as issues dogging Bangalore. All these happen at a grander scale in Delhi. Right under its nose. But the stench never reaches the nostrils of these pen-pushers. Meanwhile, Congress has all its support: “It’s natural it (Congress) wishes itself to be taken into account before a major decision.” Wah, when it’s matter of allies of BJP, it’s the latter which is being “autocratic” and riding roughshod over its juniors. But in the matter of Congress, it’s juniors who must hide their tails between the legs. Pathetic, I say.

Times of India, says almost the same thing, the same day, the same lead on its edit page. Only coincidences, I understand. It wants Kumaraswamy “must accept this reality and soldier on” for in a situation of collapse, the “prime beneficiary would be BJP.” It warns HDK that his public lament would “not be music to voters.” Bravo.

And that must not happen, isn’t it. BJP must not benefit. Innocent, gullible voting cattles must not see this wrong connection which has made a mockery of democracy. Kumaraswamy has been given the chief minister’s chair and he must act like Manmohan Singh (yes, that’s the exact advice Times of India gives to HDK!). Sealed lips, zero conscience.

Indian Express wants Kumaraswamy to understand “asserting his control over the coalition would be difficult.” The “journalism of courage” doesn’t explain how the Chief Minister could run when the dogs are tugging at his dhoti. Or, without his allies behind him, how he could push through legislation in the state assembly.  It also gives HDK a lecture in statecraft: “people hate tears.” Ask Pushpa (yes, it draws analogy from movie Amar Prem-that’s the  seriousness it accords to the matter).

The newspaper terms it “idle tears” for if Kumaraswamy is serious he must give way to a colleague of his to run the government. I wish Indian Express had the courage to offer the same advice to Congress. Likes Gandhis, JD(S) is also all about Gowdas. They are dynasts no less. Would Rahul Gandhi step aside only because Congress is in a coma?

None of these three newspapers steel their spine and address a simple logic: If Kumaraswamy is distraught, if he is crying in public, could it be because Congress MLAs have made his life hell in Bangalore. And if it’s so why Congress is not reining them in? Is it because Congress simply can’t for the MLAs would then run under the BJP’s banyan tree? Why blame one opportunist when the other has turned it into an art form in last 70 years?

But then Congress is a different matter. It’s a holy cow with hind legs of a horse which can kick you in your teeth. The milky diet that you are fed on would be withdrawn. Hello Lutyens Media, why do the sham of being worried about democracy and a billion-plus people of this country? Why not concede you are lackeys and little else?

How the lies and liars are snared in the own net

I laughed my guts out when I saw this piece in Indian Express on Thursday by Shamsul Islam. I had predicted it was coming in an OpIndia piece a week before. So predictable are these “intellectuals” and their “media platforms” that seriously, you can earn the reputation of a clairvoyant, build up an army of faithfuls who might even call you a Prophet one day!

Just to make sure the message goes across, I also used other platforms, such as my personal website and other nationally and internationally-run forums. I wanted to expose this cottage-industry of RSS-bashers. Call-out the exact lines and arguments they would put forth to denigrate RSS and its leaders, especially MS Golwalkar and KB Hedgewar.  That invasive Communist ideology of liars who preach others on their stance in Freedom Struggle even though they themselves were OFFICIALLY against the Quit India Movement! No less than a former Chief Minister of Kerala, VS Achutanandan, was sacked as a CPM politburo member for suggesting blood donation camp for Indian soldiers during the 1962 India-China War. His pro-India line was declared anti-party by Communists.

Now, I took care to look at the articles Shamsul Islam has written and Indian Express has published in all these years. Of his 10 articles in Indian Express in last three years, all but one have been rants against Hedgewar or Golwalkar. Seriously! That’s how creative this former lecturer of Political Science is. He has been turned into a kind of RSS-shaming brand by Indian Express, as have the other Left-leaning outlets who cater to his garbage, such as CounterCurrents, and Caravan Daily.

To begin with, should we fight the message or the messenger? Yes of course, the message. And that’s what OpIndia has done in recent past: Create a catalogue of aspersions this gang casts at Hedgewar or Golwalkar; RSS or Savarkar and then offer an Essential Guide to nail these pre-scheduled minefields of lies.

So next time, you are confronted with lies on Hedgewar, Golwalkar and Savarkar just revisit these Essential Guides. You won’t have to look any further to smother the hood of the serpent. You could then confront such writers or their platforms, such as Indian Express, and force them to be accountable. And laugh your guts out—as I am doing right now.

In case you are short on inclination or time; and couldn’t care less about any religion or ideology, just poke this question on the face of these liars, just one this question: Why don’t they ever mention Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya of RSS and his Integral Humanism? And the fact that every BJP member is required to swear by his name?

Their silence would be your answer. And perhaps a few rupees saved from buying your indoctrinating newspaper.