Last week, the APB News’ flagship weekly programme Press Conference was broadcast.
The guest for the show was the former IPS officer, Kiran Bedi, who had led the BJP’s assembly elections campaign in Delhi as a chief ministerial candidate quite unsuccessfully in February last year.
On the show, I asked several questions including her stand on Modi government and, most crucially, her own intolerance on twitter.
I asked her if it was acceptable for her to be so intolerant on social media just because an individual either criticised her or had a constructive feedback to give.
While asking this question, I made it abundantly clear that there was absolutely nothing wrong for the celebrated IPS officer to block a user if someone was being uncivil or resorted to insults and abuses against her.
I also reminded her about her days with Anna movement, which championed the need for engaging with public and the need for dialogue.
The question was linked with my own experience as we realised very early that Bedi had blocked www.jantakareporter.com soon after we launched the portal in May last year.
The revelation was shocking given that we had never done a story on her, let alone criticising her from our platform. It was also because www.jantakareporter.com was launched several months after Delhi elections and she had clearly faded out of public memory because of the crushing defeats faced by both Bedi and her party.
Obviously, I was disappointed when told that Bedi had blocked my portal.
Our ideological differences aside, there’s little denying the truth that our generation grew up reading about heroics of Bedi. She was an icon to a large group of my generation.
That’s precisely what I conveyed her even after the show. Bedi told me that she was ‘shocked’ to learn that www.jantakareporter.com appeared in the list of those she had blocked just because her views didn’t match with them.
“It must have been an inadvertent error. I only block people who are insulting and abusive,” Bedi said.
I couldn’t have agreed with her more.
She asked me to text her the twitter handle of www.jantakareporter.com, so that she could unblock it.
However, far from fulfilling her promise, she has now blocked my personal twitter handle as well. It’s all because I grilled her on her inconsistencies on the show.
I reminded her that two newspapers, New York Times and France’s Le Monde(both far more reputed and bigger in stature than Pakistan’s Dawn) had written scathing editorials about Modi’s politics of polarisation and how he handled the JNU crisis.
I also told her about the Amnesty International’s annual report, which had criticised Modi holding him ‘squarely responsible for fuelling communal tension’ in the country.
It was the same week, Human Rights Watch too had slammed Modi for ‘promoting democracy abroad but crushing dissent at home.‘ The HRW’s criticism had come in the wake of the raging controversy over the police crackdown on JNU campus.
Of course, Bedi denied having read any of these reports. All she had read or watched was someone in Pakistan’s Dawn News praise Modi.
I also asked her if she ever cared about the fact that the glaring inconsistencies in her stand and desperate defence for often indefensible issues had led her to fall off pedestal for many who once saw her as an icon.
Bedi, in her inimitable style, said she didn’t care at all on what people thought of her.
Bedi’s behaviour summed up the annihilation the saffron party faced in Delhi under her leadership. Just imagine the fate of Delhi under her, who clearly isn’t a votary of engaging with ordinary public and the members of the media.
I can’t help but draw a parallel with her former colleagues Arvind Kejrieal (now Delhi chief minister) and Kumar Vishwas (now senior AAP leader) and how they handled my questions on the same show on ABP News.
Anybody, who watched those programmes would remember that I was more menacing to them than how I asked put forward my question to Bedi. They have neither unblocked nor unfollowed me or www.jantakareporter.com.
Something for Ms Bedi to draw inspiration from.
You can watch the press conference with Kiran Bedi here