Some leaders and commanders are said to gain lost grounds; INC president Rahul Gandhi excels in losing gained ground. When, for the past few months since the Gujarat election, the media had been expressing optimism that the oldest party’s head is finally coming of age, he comes up with an asinine comment that the founder of Coca Cola used to sell shikanji during his formative years and that McDonald’s owner was initially the owner of a dhaba! For 48 hours thereafter, Twitter and other social mediums had a field day, posting memes and spoofs on the ridiculous observation Gandhi made. In all probability, they were rejoicing the fact that they have rediscovered the Rahul ‘Gaffe’ Gandhi they had been missing sorely since the ageless wonder had turned inexplicably serious. The remark was so rib-tickling, an otherwise reserved Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley could not help having a laugh. The subject is the man who credited the women of Gujarat for supplying milk to the country; this is the politician who said he would provide all citizens with a lot of mazaa (fun); he said the current government had raped women — “izzat ki aap ki? Nahin, bhrashtachar kiya; sorry, balatkar kiya” were his words — he said in the course of one of his speeches that one morning, he had woken up at night; when asked why he thought Narendra Modi was responsible for the Gujarat riots of 2002, he said it was important to empower the women of the country…! A person who is so incoherent in his responses must be suffering from some medical condition worse than dyslexia that the media is too inhibited to investigate. The maximum that has been reported so far is the fact that this man has, in the recent years, disappeared from public view at least twice to some undisclosed destination. Whether it was for some rehabilitation programme was widely speculated but never established with incontrovertible evidence.
If no media house can garner the courage to ask the obvious question, it is unlikely that they are all in the thrall of the dynasty of the party that bows to it. Even Google, the most popular search engine, the headquarters of which are not situated in India, does not yield a good number of reports dated 2001 when the FBI had detained Rahul Gandhi at the Boston airport with unaccountable cash and other objectionable things in his girlfriend’s luggage. His family has got to be a part of a worldwide network that is too formidable to take on. It must be so intimidating, even a BJP government headed by Modi reveals no unknown secrets of the family in the last four years. That begs the question why some journalists and other intellectuals make such a song and dance about an ‘assault’ on freedom of expression or that of the press when that freedom never existed in the first place. Perhaps, they complain because, much as they have continued to pour vitriol on television and print post-2014, they have stopped receiving state-sponsored perks and junkets for it.
That the media metes out to the Congress’s first family a kid-glove treatment would be an understatement. The comical Gandhi turns diabolical when he takes the side of break-India forces from the JNU to Bhima-Koregaon and also takes the side of senior Supreme Court judges who have the audacity to violate the service code to share with the press their misgivings about an internal, administrative matter of the judiciary. When Gandhi was being promoted despite his pathetic record at the hustings, one could say it was all too fair to be on the side of the underdog (although that description would not justify the promotion of the ‘prince charming’ under the UPA rule). Whether all media houses should be nationalistic may be debatable, but the general conduct of the media does not betray neutrality, let alone objectivity. Modi might be disappointing the people by not going after the skeletons in the cupboards of the Nehru-Gandhis because he wants to keep the easy target alive, as the prospect of lampooning Rahul Gandhi and Mani Shankar Aiyar comes in handy during elections. But if neither the government nor the media pursues the truth, the nation’s interest is not served.