‘ You know Abhisarji! The Muslim does not vote for the BJP. Dont you think that with the BJP government both in the centre and UP, they should do away with all welfare measures for Muslims? ‘
This was the drift of the conversation I was having with a journalist as the BJP was romping home with 300 plus in the UP elections on 11 March.
‘ But Muslims are citizens of this country too?’ I protested. ‘How can you snatch away something that is guaranteed under the constitution for them? How can you further push away the masses to the sidelines with there being already being so much of mistrust? ‘
He said calmly, ‘ but sir, look what they are doing to Hindus in Pakistan? ‘
I stared at him with disbelief and realised where this argument was heading.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has raised the pet issue of Pakistan, and his bhakts (blind devotees) have once again gone to town blaming the neighbouring country for the politics of hatred professed and propagated by them against India’s minority community.
And those indulging in politics of hate are no longer fringe elements. They are journalists, who are not afraid of wearing hate up their sleeves. They are so-called opinion makers and influences. Their arguments often begin with whataboutery! What about the Congress and Naxal apologists in the media, who have existed for the past so many years?
Yes. What about them? Fantastic whatabboutery.
So you become what you despise the most? You forget the basic tenets of journalism- To question. Since apologists owing allegiance to Congress and Left parties did it, so shall we?
But why am I raising this issue now? These individuals are not radical and brainwashed supporters of a political party, but they are journalists.
I still remember when journalist Deepak Sharma and I were taking on Salman Khurshid in a press conference that had exposed his NGO for wrongdoing. A senior journalist had messaged me, ‘please speak to Khurshid Sahab with respect. This is no way to question a senior politician.’
But even this ‘Congress apologist’ questioned the UPA and its track record of misgovernance. The journalists who featured in the Radia ‘hall of shame’ also questioned the Congress.
Journalists then, were firmly raising questions against the regime. And they still are because, for most of them, Congress continues to remain in power and the BJP still enjoys the status of an opposition party despite being in government for three years.
And anti-nationals like yours truly, who do write and question the current patriotic regime are given special treatment. Filthy propaganda, harassment on social media with even family not spared. Yes. I say that with all the courage I have, that your family is not spared. But then, this is not about me. I know how to defend my family and I will continue to face these cowards.
But what worries me is that the lines between Bhakts and journalists have now blurred.
The secular character of India is enshrined and guaranteed in our constitution. Fix that first. True, appeasement of Muslims has been a serious political issue in the past. But the question that I wish to ask my fellow Hindus is, how has that affected your life? Has the Muslim snatched your job? Does he or she threaten your livelihood?
Muslim masses have had leaders, who led them nowhere. They are still grappling with poverty, ignorance and a constant fear that they might be branded as terrorists or jailed.
Educated amongst them are now openly abused by, yes, us fellow journalists. They are at pains to prove their love for this country.
More recently, my friend Darain Shahidi was abused in the worst possible way by not some radical but a senior person working for a news channel. The ease with which words like Pakistan were thrown at him were shocking. There is not even a shred of dignity left in a normal conversation.
As I write this, I come across a tweet of a journalist who had wished death for Arvind Kejriwal. Death? In the name of satire and banter? Another anchor with a notorious past had trolled Gurmehar Kaur question her how she was bringing shame to the ” Shahadat” of her father.
Is it a coincidence that suddenly in the last three years, so many stars (journos) have erupted on the Bhakt horizon? It’s a pity to see senior journalists whom you have respected as hawks on the Pakistan issue become such doves under this regime.
Not questioning this regime over the futility of the surgical strike or if that indeed strengthened our borders, protected precious lives of our soldiers or the PM’s strategic silence on attacks like Nagrota?
Where is all that bravado? Instead, it’s a pity to see them run around like excited calves at the sight of Yogi Adityanath. The jaggery of sycophancy is the sweetest.
Well, Yogi has got all of us excited and the entire tribe is now behaving like the bunch of impressionable tribe of calves that Yogiji lovingly feeds. Isn’t it Mitron?
I can understand why a journalist associated with Tihar jail or faced with ED inquiry on a reported chatter with an arms dealer may suck up to the establishment. I can understand why journalists who’ve had a relatively dark past in a far away country would happily wish to crawl before the establishment.
But what I don’t get is the fear that lurks in minds of journalists who were critical of the establishment till 16 May, 2014.
What we fail to see is that by not questioning the establishment, we are killing our biggest strength- credibility.
It’s a bad dream. It’s surreal at times. Like you have entered a dystopian future. A la Mad Max Fury Road. Or is the worse yet to come?
Or as Kangna Ranavat so eloquently puts it in Tanu weds Manu returns, “Abhi to humen aur zaleel hona hai.”
(Views expressed here the author’s own. Janta Ka Reporter doesn’t subscribe to them.)