Ranjona Banerji: Deflect and Justify!

20 Jul,2018

​By Ranjona Banerji​

 

Isn’t it cute how every time the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre is in a spot of bother, various media houses, especially our friends on television, rush to the rescue? Like how to cover up lynching by suspected BJP supporters? Or how to deflect attention from the poor flailing rupee (which reflects the poor, flailing economy)? And abracadabra, let’s bring up a corruption case against a former government. Let us, obviously, ignore the fight within the Central Bureau of Investigation, because, you know, that reflects badly. Instead, Agusta Westland.

This is only one example but there are countless. The rupee is at a “lifetime low” against the dollar. Lifetime, mind you and India does not know who it’s finance minister is. We have two. One writes blogs, the other cannot understand Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s accent. Neither has anything to do with managing the economy.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/business-news/rupee-suffers-43p-knock-to-end-at-life-time-low-of-69-05-against-dollar/story-VMhjUmYcnkqpoRu8DSAQgN.html

This is industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla on how near-term prospects for the Indian economy are bad. Read between the lines and the “positive” aspects for the future are lost in parrot-card predictions. Let’s have a TV debate on this, guys!

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/indicators/kumar-mangalam-birla-says-all-is-not-rosy-for-economy-in-near-term/articleshow/65043210.cms?utm_source=APPusers&utm_medium=twittershare&utm_campaign=socialsharebutton

In the Times of India, former head of Proctor and Gamble, Gurcharan Das (who promised India 10 million jobs as soon as Modi became prime minister) argues that while Modi has not delivered on promises, somehow growth sceptics are to blame. It is another one of those neat, senseless arguments which never get challenged.

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Do we get back to lynching now? The Supreme Court has taken note of the number of mob lynchings in India recently and asked the government to draft a new legislation to stop people from taking the law into their own hands.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/mob-lynching-draft-new-legislation-to-stop-people-taking-law-into-own-hands-says-sc-to-parliament/articleshow/65019261.cms

Members of the BJP and RSS and their affiliated supporters have appeared on TV making some bland noises about how lynching is wrong and then trying to convince us that Swami Agnivesh deserved to be lynched because of the things he had said or because he was foreign funded. Nidhi Razdan took on one of these supporters of mob violence the other day; did anyone else on TV?

Indeed, more attention was paid to some weeping by Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy because it might show that the coalition government there is in trouble. Anything to change the subject.

The BJP meanwhile, and obviously, feels there is no need for a special law. It has come up with its bog standard excuse that law and order is a state subject. Unsaid would be that currently the BJP rules most Indian states, so why would it jeopardise the lynching rights of its supporters? How many TV debates have you seen on this?

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/no-need-for-separate-law-on-lynching-bjp-sources-after-supreme-court-remark-1886108

The excuses continue and the pro-BJP media continues to deflect and justify. The amount of focus on Rahul Gandhi might lead a Martian to believe that indeed he does run the country.

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While on Rahul Gandhi, it was shocking to see a newspaper as old and as venerable as Inquilab mis-report on a meeting that the Congress president had with a few Muslim intellectuals and leaders. I worked for years with the Mid-Day group, of which Inquilab is a part, before it was sold to Dainik Jagran. For Inquilab to report that Gandhi said that the Congress is a party of Muslims, based on the observations of a reporter who was not even present at the meeting is a low and a shame for this newspaper.

Sadly, as ever, it took our new myth-busting websites to break down the story and get to the truth. Sites like altnews show up mainstream media everyday and those in charge seem oblivious to how foolish they look as a result.

https://www.altnews.in/did-rahul-gandhi-say-congress-is-a-party-of-muslims-meeting-participants-refute-claim/

 

​Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She is also Consulting Editor, MxMIndia. The views here are personal

 

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