The trigger for this write-up was provided by the wolves circling in on Rahul Gandhi, the favourite scapegoat of both rabid rightists and pseudo-liberals, evidently because neither dare question either Narendra Modi or Amit Shah.
One can immediately think of two obvious reasons for it. The bankrolling of the media by the government that has been happening for the last five years and the fear that the flow may slow down or stop. The second reason could be the fear that morning walks could end as one-way trips.
For most ordinary citizens, or at least for 60 per cent of them, let us say, till May 23, 2019, Narendra Modi was a huge failure. His own rallies and some by the so-called Chanakya Amit Shah, were largely lackluster and despite the almost vulgar display of money power, attracted lukewarm response and often empty chairs.
He sounded a bitter man, who had nothing new to offer, no major achievement in his tenure that he could talk about and clearly trailing several disasters. Demonetisation, which crippled the Indian economy, in any other country would have brought down the government. One has to see Theresa May’s plight in the wake of Brexit to appreciate what would have happened if she had tried Demonetisation of the scale attempted by a clueless government in India. But the media treated Demonetisation with kid gloves, not even asking Prime Minister Modi to assess its impact or explain why he went for it in the first place.
The vehemence with which Narendra Modi attacked Rahul Gandhi and dragged in the name of late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was an index of his desperation. Just as he had done before the Gujarat Assembly election, when Modi had cooked up an imaginary conspiracy with Pakistan hatched by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to install a Muslim chief minister, this time he falsely charged late Rajiv Gandhi of using INS Viraat, an aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy, as a private taxi and putting national security at risk by inviting his Italian relatives on board.
Denials by two former chiefs of Indian Navy and first-person accounts of people who explained that the aircraft carrier was not designed for picnics and parties, did little to correct the perception. A serving Prime Minister had again lied to take political advantage in an election.
Little wonder then when Ajay Agarwal, a Supreme Court Advocate and a former BJP candidate from Rae Bareli who lost to Sonia Gandhi in 2014 said, “If there are free and fair elections, the BJP will not win more than 40 seats”.
The media blew up a stray comment by Mani Shankar Aiyar in 2014 when he made an acerbic reference to Modi’s claim to be a chaiwala. It had again blown up Aiyar’s comment that Modi spoke like a ‘Neech’ or degenerate person. They once again blew up Aiyar’s write-up in which he had claimed that Modi had actually vindicated his opinion with his lowly antics.
But the media showed little interest in blowing up the serial lies or model code violations by Modi and Shah.
The clamour for Rahul Gandhi to resign as Congress president originated from a BJP think tank and was supplied to media houses. Rahul Gandhi is the only threat that the BJP and the RSS see before them. Almost single handedly, he put the BJP on the back foot, raised issues of farm crisis, unemployment and rural distress as part of the national discourse in place of Ram Mandir and Triple Talaq of the Sangh Parivar. But once again, the media took little interest in questioning the government.
The sight of four Supreme Court judges holding an unprecedented press conference and claiming that democracy was in peril has disappeared from public memory, thanks to the media. The press conference was held only a year and a half ago and was a scathing indictment of the government. But no TV anchor demanded the resignation of the then Law Minister or the CJI!
The government’s refusal to allow a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to investigate the Rafale deal was again not questioned by the media while Rahul Gandhi alone raised uncomfortable questions. The government is yet to answer questions on why it chose to buy 36 fighter planes when the Indian Air Force wanted 126 of them. There is no satisfactory explanation why HAL was not allowed to manufacture the plane in India. And the government took refuge in national security to deny details on pricing. In any other country, the media would have raised these questions and grilled the government. But here the media grilled Rahul Gandhi instead.
Even the Supreme Court, which indulged the government and allowed it to make submissions in sealed envelopes and teach the apex court English grammar, was indignant when Rahul Gandhi mistakenly declared that even the Supreme Court had endorsed his jibe, Chowkidar Chor Hai, when the court had merely agreed to hear the Review petition on its ruling on the Rafale deal. Neither an expression of regret nor an apology by Rahul Gandhi was quite enough for the court.
The same media which have been asking why Rahul Gandhi is not stepping down, have not bothered to question how Pragya Singh Thakur got elected after praising the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi as a patriot. Nor did the media ask too many hard questions of Smriti Irani, who gave conflicting information about her education, who made a mess of his ministerial responsibilities. Nor did the media ask hard questions on Pulwama and the air strike in Balakot.
The BJP wants Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra out of their way. Because they have the power to derail their agenda and fight against their lies and hate. In the absence of the media asking questions of the government on its mishandling of the economy, the Gandhis have been doing the job.
With the economy on the verge of imploding, it suits the BJP if the Congress is deprived of the strong voice of Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi. Their job will be half done if they can neutralise Rahul Gandhi.