Why journalists alone, every Indian with a stake in the democratic republic ought to feel sorry at the gruesome killing of Gauri Lankesh. And angry too that in the heart of Bengaluru her killers could hope to get away with such a heinous crime. Whatever the motive, the guilty must be brought to book --- and soon. Lankesh’s political and ideological leanings are not, and should not be, relevant to the investigation of the cold-blooded murder. The challenge is to apprehend the killers and expose the conspiracy, if any, behind the murder.
Having said that, we have no hesitation in noting that the manner in which the usually loudmouthed and noisy section of the Delhi-centric media has latched on to Lankesh’s murder further underlines its barely concealed agenda. Which is to pick any and every stone it can lay its hands on and throw it at the Modi Sarkar. Given its visceral hatred of the current ruling dispensation, the capital-based English language media, whose nuisance value is far greater than its actual influence on the people, has been hysterical about the threat the ruling party supposedly poses to the constitutional order.
Stray incidents perpetrated by loonies claiming proximity to the Sangh Parivar are magnified to buttress its charge about there being an atmosphere of violence and confrontation.
Instead of seeing things in a correct perspective, the so-called liberals blow up manifold unfortunate acts of individual boorishness and intolerance to heap the blame on the incumbent leadership. Now, the same people have already concluded that the Sangh parivar has to be somehow connected to Lankesh’s elimination.
If you were to trust these bleeding-heart liberals, who believe they alone know what is good for India, the identity of the killer is known. Should the Siddaramaiah Government go by the averments of the woolly-headed secularist crowd, the Bengaluru Police by now would have already picked up a stray member of an RSS-BJP affiliate and presented him to the world media as the killer. For, far from shedding tears over her tragic death, the viscerally anti-BJP gaggle in the cosmopolitan media is wringing its hands in sheer desperation at the continuing hold of Modi on the popular mind. Truly, a feeling of helplessness can be quite frustrating and distort perspective.
Okay, even if it is true that Lankesh in her Kannada weekly regularly spewed venom against the Sangh parivar, how does it follow from that the Sangh was behind her murder?
Is it not true that the main moneybag in the Karnataka Government who was raided by the income tax authorities on the eve of the recent Gujarat Rajya Sabha poll too was a target of Gauri Lankesh. Also, as an activist she had established close links with the Naxals, taking upon herself the task of persuading some of them to surrender, something bound to have angered the hardcore armed guerillas no end. Taking a cue from the liberal-left crowd, could one rule out the hand of the Naxals behind her removal? At least, the victim’s brother seems to think so.
We have no idea as to who killed her, and we refuse to hazard a guess, but the anti-Modi loudmouths have already spun a protest narrative on the presumption that the killer was commissioned by the Sangh Parivar. Not unlike the usual plot in a Bollywood thriller, could it be that some in the secularist crowd in Karnataka, keen to divert attention from the monumental failures and corruption of the Siddaramahia Government on the eve of a crucial Assembly poll, hatched a conspiracy certain in the knowledge that the finger of suspicion would point to the Sangh parivar?
Honestly, we claim not to have a ghost’s idea and ask these questions only because our secularist friends seem to want to force the Modi Sarkar on the defensive.
Of course, Modi is made of much sterner stuff and is not bothered by these self-serving noises which merely salve the guilty consciences of the liberal-secular crowd which had colluded with and condoned the worst excesses of the Congress regimes without ever murmuring a word in protest.
The same people who were singing hallelujahs to Indira Gandhi when she pelted every institution, when she talked of a committed judiciary and her lieutenants equated her with India, the very same people are now raising the bogus bogey of fascism, of creeping authoritarianism, etc. Indeed, even during her father’s time, press was hardly free. Given the monopoly of the Congress over the levers of power, and with no opposition in sight, the media was a captive of Nehru. The rare journalist who strayed from the established theocracy soon found himself rendered jobless.
Like my friend the late cartoonist Rajinder Puri. It took a handful of Congressmen to protest outside the Hindustan Times on the day Puri’s cartoon depicting Nehru in a rather sorry state after the Chinese nearly overran Assam in 1962 appeared on page one. Easily the most talented political cartoonist India has had so far, Puri soon found himself out of HT. And he never found himself a steady job after that till his death two years ago, all because he refused to compromise, to bend with the prevailing political currents. There are no Puris in today’s media, only publicity-seekers noisemakers. .
The so-called jute press was small and virtually in thrall of the Congress Party during the heyday of the license-permit-quota raj. So, stop this myth-making about Nehru and Indira Gandhi. The first was not challenged, the latter when finding herself challenged, showed her authoritarian teeth.
The point is that unless tested, every one in power is a great democrat, a constitutionalist. And, please do note, Modi has no reason to clamp down on the media, particularly when he faces little or no threat from the Opposition.
Finding themselves out of plum posts, say, that of a media adviser to the prime minister, or feeling unwanted in the corridors of power, a section of the media orchestrates a shrill charade against Modi on the flimsiest of pretexts. For instance, shouting loudly when a television channel, accused of laundering black money and evading taxes, is sought to be penalised for proven violations. Its secularist-liberal pretensions ought not to have served as a shield to paper over proven financial skullduggery.
In sum, while strongly condemning the murder of a fellow journalist, the media ought not to take sides, and allow the police to do its job. The defence of democracy is the concern of all, and not merely of the self-styled secularist-liberal pretenders.
Meanwhile, the social media has a list of some 15 journalists who were killed in various parts of the country in the last couple of years. No editor or television anchor ever tweeted to protest these equally gruesome killings. Maybe because the 15 were not leftwing liberals who were openly hostile towards the Sangh parivar.
A question of facts: yours or mine?
It is hard to pinpoint facts as in Truth with a capital T in diplomacy. That is what was contended during the course of the release of two new books by retired IFS officers on two successive days last week. On day one, discussing T C A Raghavan’s - The People Next Door -- The Curious History of India’s Relations with Pakistan, the author mentioned various missed opportunities, including the key one at the Shimla Summit. But the panelists, both distinguished foreign policy experts, disagreed on what actually transpired in Shimla after India had captured over 90,000 Pakistani POWs. Raghavan retired as our High Commissioner in Pakistan.
The tussle over what was true or false was starker the next day when former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh released Shyam Saran’s - How India Sees the World. Saran, a former foreign secretary, mentioned how a breakthrough was achieved with Pakistan on Sir Creek and Siachen, with India agreeing to withdraw from the latter while Pakistan would redraw the maritime boundary of Sir Creek. While Prime Minister Singh and the then Army Chief J J Singh were on board, the backchannel deal was torpedoed when the army chief changed stance after the national security adviser, M K Naranayan, bitterly opposed it.
J J Singh, who was in the audience, protested that he did not change his view, as Saran suggested, and that he was all along against withdrawal from Siachen. Pointing towards the former Prime Minister, who was sitting only a couple of seats away from him, he said he was witness that he was always consistent on staying put in Siachen. While the former PM chose to remain silent, Saran stuck to his version. Now, there was no way of sifting fact from near-facts in the business of diplomacy, was it?
(Virendra Kapoor is a senior journalist and columnist. The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect that of Asianet Newsable.)