Ranjona Banerji: Media finally wakes up to ‘Vyapam’ scam

07 Jul,2015

By Ranjona Banerji


The poor media. Damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t. For the past two weeks, the media – particularly television – has been slammed on social media for ignoring the deaths of witnesses and accused in an examination and recruitment case in Madhya Pradesh. The implication was clear – because Madhya Pradesh was a BJP-ruled state with the much-respected Shivraj Chouhan as chief minister, some sections of the media were handling the story with those clichéd kid gloves.


However, the death of Aaj Tak reporter Akshay Singh has galvanised the entire media into action. Most of English TV’s bigwigs landed in Bhopal to cover the story and “grill” the government on the deaths of more than 40 people connected to the “Vyapam” scam. There are two aspects to the story and the cynical might be reminded that while the scam itself is under investigation, the fact that so many people around it and involved in it have died is intriguing, if not a cause for concern.


I have no doubt that very soon the defence of the BJP will begin within the media especially from neutral columnists who are emphatically pro-BJP. They will see a giant conspiracy to defame the ruling party and the prime minister Narendra Modi. Others will speculate on how all the scams and wrongdoings seem to emanate from people within the BJP who are direct competition to Modi. Others will of course see the immense power of the Congress and Sonia Gandhi – with only 44 seats in the Lok Sabha and failing influence everywhere else – which controls the media when it has almost nothing to offer it in return.


This last thought process is already evident amongst respected columnists and prime idiots amongst our fraternity who feel that the Lalit Modi story was nudged off the air because the former IPL chief mentioned the names of the Gandhis of the Congress. The current weakness of the Congress Party seems to have passed these people by. Also, a basic journalistic sense would have told them that the story was bound to die out if the government did nothing. In fact, the government played the waiting game and for all that experts and journalists talked about probity and propriety, no action was taken against either external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj or Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje. The media is unlikely to carry on with a story for weeks when nothing happens. That is common sense and a little experience and a lot of common sense would have told these worthies that.


The other sad fact of life is that when you are in power, you face the most flak. It seems absurd that I even have to write this. The focus of the media has to be on the government and the party in power. In the light of this, endless stories about Rahul Gandhi skipping around daisy fields are unlikely. (On second thoughts…!) Nor are stories about why Rahul Gandhi is silent and why Rahul Gandhi is out of the country going to be more exciting than why is Narendra Modi silent and why is Narendra Modi out of the country – although what is true for one is true for the other.




My very sad moral of the story to all my fellow journalists who are in love with Narendra Modi is this: it’s only going to get worse. And calling me or any journalist who focuses on the government in power a “presstitute” might make you feel better but it is not going to change reality. My condolences.


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One response to “Ranjona Banerji: Media finally wakes up to ‘Vyapam’ scam”

  1. Deadlyrocker says:

    Sad but true. Could the Lalit Modi issue have taken a backseat with Arnab Goswami away 😉 After all AG just blows up everything out of proportion which at times, makes sense but not always ….

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