On Sunday morning we experienced rather unusual hysteria among certain usual suspects in Indian media over how the BJP chief Amit Shah had ‘summoned’ a few leaders to ‘admonish’ them for their ‘irresponsible comments’ related to last month’s Dadri lynching of an innocent Muslim. These ‘celebrated’ journalists were the same who’ve earned quite a notoriety in trumpeting a favourable narrative for the saffron briagde often without attribution every time there’s a need for them to do so.
Today was no different. An anchor from a leading English channel asked her senior colleague on the live TV the purpose of Shah meeting his party leaders. Pat came this response from this senior journalist,
“We understand that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP president Amit Shah are extremely unhappy over the irresponsible comments made by certain leaders. They are being given a dressing down by Shah.”
One Hindi channel’s headline screamed,
“Pradhan Mantri ki naraazgi ke baad Amit Shah ne Dadri maamle par BJP leaders ki class li (After Prime Minister’s anger, Amit Shah took BJP leaders to task over Dadri issue.)”
I, for once, don’t question the authenticity of the wide reportage on the real reason behind Shah’s meeting with his senior party colleagues as reported by channels. However, there are certain glaring anomalies in the facts that appeared to be reported to, what many on social media felt, suit the BJP in the crucial Bihar elections.
Quoting his comments made to ABP news, friends in media reported that Prime Minister was very angry with the ‘irresponsible’ statements by few BJP leaders on Dadri incident. Hence the need for today’s meeting.
When asked to comment, this is what PM Modi had to say,
“Incidents like Dadri and the protest against the Pakistani singer (Ghulam Ali) are really sad but what is the Centre’s role in them? This has happened in the past too. The BJP has always opposed pseudo-secularism. Now they are using these sad incidents to revive the debate. The BJP has never supported such incidents. The opposition is using these incidents to accuse the BJP of communalism but isn’t the opposition guilty of politics of polarisation?”
He said he was sad, not angry over the tragic incident of Dadri, where a mob of over 100 people had killed an innocent man. So, when did the prime minister confide to these selected few journalists who so enthusiastically reported on Sunday about his anger on Dadri?
Good thing about this prime minister is that he’s quite good at expressing himself, whenever he chooses to do so. He doesn’t mince words and possess exceptional quality of articulating his thoughts to his audience. It’s difficult to believe that on this occasion he chose to share his anger to a few journalists even when he had an opportunity to make his thoughts abundantly clear a few days ago. Alternatively, the familiar platform for him to express his ‘displeasure’ would always have been social media platforms. But he hasn’t done so even after the widespread criticism.
Today’s reporting is a shining example of how far the TV journalism has deteriorated in India. TV, print or digital journalism, I’ve always despised interpreting headlines because much of the credibility loss in today’s media emanates from our chronic problem of interpreting news to suit a party, individual or the organisation. But even if I were to interpret what PM Modi had told ABP, my conclusion would have been that he appeared angry not because an innocent man had fallen victim to bigotry or hate crime but because the opposition was ‘playing politics of polarisation.’
For Full coverage on Dadri lynching: Read here
One could argue that prime minister’s inability to publicly demonstrate his anger may have stemmed from his unusual struggle in accurately articulating his anger using appropriate words up until now. After all he hold quite an important constitutional post and it’s important for him to exercise caution in choosing right words while interacting with public. Hence the long silence followed by a rather standard reply.
But he doesn’t have to struggle for words any longer as many journalist friends have made his task quite easy. Several journalists have now reported that how PM Modi was ‘displeased,’ ‘angry’ and ‘extremely unhappy’ about the communally charged statements by senior BJP leaders such as the Haryana chief minister, Manohar Lal Khattar, Sangeet Som, Mahesh Sharma and Sakshi Maharaj.
I think Modi and Shah can now safely use these terminologies and issue a statement at least through social media reflecting the sentiments and outrage reported by channels. Else, their detractors will continue to suspect the narrative of Sunday’s media coverage. Many on social media are already describing today’s coverage an orchestrated frenzy to help the party extract the much-needed electoral mileage in Bihar elections, where the BJP’s prospects are believed to be on the slide.
P.S. Media frenzy in reporting on PM Modi’s anger on hate speeches took place hours after the RSS – the BJP’s idelogical mentor-mouthpiece Panchjanya reportedly ‘justified’ the Dadri incident.