TVR Shenoy (1941-2018) was a doyen of Indian journalism. Undoubtedly he was the tallest Malayali journalist in Delhi. He was widely respected because of his fearless and forceful comments, erudition and vast contact he cultivated and nurtured over the years. Though a Malayali, he was more popular and at ease in the cosmopolitan circuit. Though Shenoy worked for many years with the pro-Congress Malayala Manorama group, in the 1990s, especially after the failure of the V P Singh experiment and success of Ram Janmabhoomi movement he developed an appreciation for the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) and the Sangh parivar.
He was especially attracted towards LK Advani, perhaps also because of his closeness with late Dinanath Mishra, veteran journalist and BJP MP. Later, he turned into a full-fledged BJP sympathiser and a very articulate votary of Narendra Modi brand of development agenda, i.e. Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas.
Shenoy belonged to that rare breed of journalists who enjoyed great credibility, readability and narrative skill. He always insisted on factuality, readability and credibility in a journalist. There were very few contemporary journalists as widely read as he was. Shenoy is familiar to Organiser readers as he contributed regularly in the last one decade.
A Man For All Seasons
I am fortunate to have a very special relationship with him. For every aspiring Keralite journalist he was the ultimate role model.
He gave great opportunities in reporting, and his tutelage helped me make some of the memorable copies. The famous by-election in Allahabad when V P Singh contested as an Independent, the Ayodhya agitation, LK Advani’s famous Ratha Yatra and many such major events were covered during this time. It was his encouragement that helped me to do the first cover story by any national magazine in 1987 on Kanshi Ram with his interview. BSP had then not arrived even in UP politics; Kanshi Ram stood third in the Allahabad by-poll. In fact, Shenoy played a role in bringing Kanshi Ram closer to BJP, later which resulted in the BSP-BJP coalition in UP which saw Mayawati as Chief Minister after her break up with SP.
Shenoy was very eager for the defeat of the corrupt United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime in 2014. He was so enthusiatic that after the Narendra Modi victory he worked overtime to convince the Muslim and Christian leaders with whom he had great rapport, that the real harmony will now become possible in Bharat. In the run up to the election with other Muslim leaders he participated in a rally organised by the BJP intellectual cell in the wake of the Muzaffarnagar riots. After election he fondly remarked, how warm, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in a chance meeting at a Vigyan Bhawan function. Shenoy had a great desire to end the Ayodhya dispute in favour of Hindus by obtaining a Fatwa from the Chief priest of Holy Mecca, with whom he enjoyed a great bonhomie.
He was the former editor of The Week and Sunday Mail, Bureau Chief of Malayala Manorama daily in the national capital for almost three decades, and a regular columnist with many major publications including Mathrubhumi Daily. He was also one of the directors of Manipal University, one of India’s leading global academic ventures. Shenoy was 77 when he breathed his last in a Manipal hospital where he was under treatment for the last few months. He dreamt of a glorious future for India and was waiting to return to Delhi for a renewed stint.
(The writer is a political analyst and former Editor of Organiser)