WHATEVER are Karnataka Governor HR Bharadwaj’s loyalties to the Congress, he should have known that there are certain Laxman Rekhas he just cannot-and should not-cross. He should not have aired his grievances against the Karnataka government publicly and in words. And he has been severely taken to task by the media. The New Indian Express (July16) to start with said the Governor “seems to have forgotten that gubernatorial assignment calls for an exercise of dignity and political neutrality”. The paper said that the BJP, therefore, “was not too far off the mark when it called him an ‘agent’ of the Congress”. The paper said that “if the state had been remiss” in the matter of illegal mining, “the Governor would have had no business to air his grievances publicly and in words” which were “deliberately provocative”. It continued: “Considering that Bharadwaj also acted virtually as an office-bearer of the Congress when he was Law Minister, suggests that he is habitually unable to distinguish between the jurisdictional limits of his different posts.”
The paper pointedly noted that “he was, of course, the man who paved the way for unfreezing Ottavio Quottrocchi’s London bank account, thereby taking another step to delink him from the Bofors scandal”. “It was obvious” the paper noted, “that this was the act of a Congressman, not a Minister”. The paper said that all that the Governor could have done was to complain to the Chief Minister and, if he was still unsatisfied with the state of affairs, to the President to whom he is directly responsible. The Governor, the paper concluded “can be accused of bare-facedly wearing his partisanship on his sleeves”. The Hindu (July 15) was no less critical. It said that “Karnataka Governor Hansraj Bharadwaj has flagrantly shed the restraint required of his office…. by speaking to the media.” “Apart from placing himself in direct conflict with the elected government,” the paper continued, “Mr Bharadwaj has, by his impropriety, lent credence to the allegation that he has acted as an ‘agent of the Congress’ in meddling with the ugly political controversy raging in Karnataka.” Even more spiritedly the paper added: “If it is too much for him to show the restraint, dignity and evenhandedness expected of the Governor’s office, he must resign or be replaced with.” As for the BJP government, The Hindu said that “it did not require Governor Bharadwaj to step out of constitutional line for it to become clear that the Bellary. brother are best relieved of ministerial office.” The Times of India, too, was angry with the Governor. In a brief editorial (July 15) the paper said that “Governor HR Bharadwaj’s questionable role threatens to further complicate matters.” It said: “While Bharadwaj’s is well within his rights to apprise the Centre, the public indictment of the BS Yeddyurappa led government in the State exceeds his mandate.” Further it said: “Instead of addressing the core issue of rampant illegal mining in Karnataka, the governor’s actions may push the State towards a constitutional crisis. It will also strengthen the view that governors act as mere agents of the ruling party at the Centre, further compromising their position in a federal set-up.” The paper demanded reforms in the mining sector saying that unless that is done “it will contribute only to the fortunes of a few while impoverishing the many”. Deccan Herald (July 16) was critical of both the Yeddyurappa Government and the Governor. The paper noted that the BJP Government is “under great stress” and its “silence over the massive heist of five lakh tonnes of iron ore” shows. People, said the paper “are also watching with helplessness the relentless rape of the State’s natural resources” and added that “they may not approve of the method that the governor HR Bharadwaj has adopted to rein the government in-and there is not doubt that he has gone beyond what the Constitution mandates-but the situation begs for a mechanism to deal with a rapacious government gone completely awry”. And to add it all, the paper said: “The earlier the Chief Minister and the BJP central leadership realise that the Bellary trio of ministers has of late become a political liability and a deep embarrassment to the party, the better it will be.” Earlier The Asian Age (June 30) was to point out that the issue of illegal ore mining in Karnataka has been simmering for nearly a year and now “all eyes are on the Election Commission, which has asked the Karnataka government why it dropped charges against the Reddy brothers and to examine if they should be disqualified as ministers as their involvement in the mining business is a case of conflict of interest. “With this increased public scrutiny, can the State continue to look the other way”, the paper asked. There is a point in quoting from all these papers for the truth is that no matter what attraction television commands among the public the print media still holds its own among India’s youth. Even in an age of over a hundred 24 x 7 news channels, newspapers are seen as the primary source for news and current affairs, with television largely an entertainment medium. The Internet is still in its infancy and radio is a bigger source of information compared to magazines, even in urban India. All this and much other similar facts became available following a survey of ‘literate Indian Youth’ commissioned by National Book Trust and conducted by a National Council of Applied Economic Research Team. According to the findings, a majority of the 333-million-odd literate youth in the country are religious, support the Women’s Reservations Bill, evince little interest in politics or fashion and are generally habit with their lot. Almost a fourth of them get a newspaper at home and around one in ten subscribe to a magazine. Newspaper are the preferred media for news but television has emerged as the biggest “engager” with average time spent a day at over 97 minutes, radio 61 minutes magazines 44 minutes and newspaper 32 minutes. Though the Internet reaches fewer than 4 per cent of all youth (8 per cent in urban areas) time spent with the medium is proportionately higher at over an hour a day (70 minutes). Around half of all youth get to read a newspaper outside their homes. The survey covered over 3,11,431 youth covering 432 villages in 207 districts and 753 urban blocks in 199 towns, a first-of-its-kind exercise. Almost three fourths (73 per cent) of literate youths in the country were from the Scheduled Castes (22. 7 per cent), other Backward Classes (40. 3 per cent) and Scheduled Tribes (9.8 per cent).