How much more vicious can the media be, when it comes to Narendra Modi? And what is more, what do they gain by it? First, a Mumbai-based daily (June 23) carried a story quoting Modi as saying that he had evacuated 15,000 Gujarati pilgrims from Uttarakhand in the course of a twp-day visit to the hill State. The media jumped at it, saying such a thing is impossible. The Hindu (June 28) pompously condemned Modi, claiming that “Uttarakhand has been reduced to a spectacle by competitive showing off, verging on the absurd”. The paper had followed the story closely and on the same date it published a report that quoted Rajnath Singh as saying that any such thing as what was attributed to Modi was wrong, considering that he himself had checked it out with the Gujarat Chief Minister. The original story had been written by The Times of India’s chief of the National News Features and editor of Sunday Times, Anand Soondas who told The Hindu that his source for the figure (15,000 pilgrims) was Anil Baluni, the BJP’s spokesperson in Uttarakhand.
Then came a further development. The Hindu (June 28) claims that it had called Mr Baluni to confirm if he had indeed given the story to Mr Soondas, but apparently the latter switched off his phone. On July 1, The Hindu reported that Mr Baluni has “denied making such a claim” as attributed to him and has sent a notice to The Times of India’s reporter who first wrote the story of Modi’s alleged achievement. But Soondas is reported as saying that he has received no notice. The hate-Modi gang has now been in operation for a long time and it is sickening to listen to the Congress ‘leaders’ making of an abusive attacks on the Gujarat Chief Minister. He has been called maut ke saudagar, a Ravana, a Bhasmasura and of late a Rambo as well. All that it shows is a total lack of character among Congress leaders, starting from the party president herself. They are a standing disgrace to Indian culture and tradition.
Happily there are decent commentators like, for example, Madhu Kishwar, Professor, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies and Arvind Panagariya, Professor of Indian Political Economy at Columbia University, let alone others like Swapan Dasgupta, a well-known commentator. But, of course, there are also journalists like Kingshuk Nag, The Times of India’s Resident Editor at Hyderabad who quotes people as saying that Modi is a feku, projecting a larger than image of himself.
Hindustan Times (June 26) quoted Modi’s aides as saying that Modi was “forced” into Rambo act, adding that Modi ‘aides’ believed that the Rambo “tag was a media creation than any spin doctoring by his officials”.
But one of the best supporters of Modi undoubtedly is Madhu Kishwar. As she said in The Economic Times (June 26): “The Congress Party is understandable upset because its Chief Minister has proved a disaster, its party machinery is in disarray, Congress Sewa Dal workers are nowhere in sight and Rahul Gandhi’s Youth Brigade is clueless….” More importantly, Freedom First (July 2013) has carried a long (six pages) article by Kishwar in defence of Modi, which professional Modi-haters would do well to read for their better education. At the same time, I would like to draw everybody’s attention to an excellent edit-page article in The Times of India (June 29) in defence of Modi by Arvind Panagariya, insisting “the Modi economic model offers a compelling alternative to the mess at the Centre”. Let me quote some of the things that Panagariya has said about Modi:
* Gujarat today has by far the highest share of GSDP in manufacturing among all states.
* It also ranks near the top in urbanisation and electrification of households.
* If one goes by the progress made in education and health, Gujarat’s performance, is quite respectable.
But there are strong critics, not just of Modi, but of the BJP as well. Thus, writing in Mainstream (June 27) Kuldip Nayar damned the Party as having changed by introducing “pure communalism to the soft Hindutva that prevailed so far”. According to Nayar “the Party has dropped every bit of ambiguity over secularism.” Nayar would do well to read what BS Raghavan (by no chance an RSS man) wrote on “Two Intriguing Faces of Hindutva” in Business Line (June 30). It is not the RSS that is marginalising the Muslims, but the Muslims themselves who want to separate themselves from the rest of society by insisting on wearing skull caps.