By Nithin Sridhar
After successfully trashing the Modi government over Dadri lynching issue, it appears that the media have now found a new scapegoat- Union Minister General VK Singh.
The recent controversy over the remarks made by VK Singh is a case in point. The former General on Thursday tried to drive home a point that the Union government cannot be held accountable for every local or state level issue including those related to law and order. But, if one were to believe the mainstream media, he equated the Dalits with the dogs.
If one were to simply listen to what exactly Singh said one would know that there was neither denigration nor any insult heaped on the Dalit people. Singh explicitly stated that, the local issues should not be connected with the government and that the issue of Dalit killing was being investigated. He added that, just as the government cannot be blamed for a person stoning a dog in the street, every local issue should not be blamed on the government.
But, the mainstream media jumped on the issue immediately and using VK Singh as the scapegoat branded the entire Modi government as being anti-Dalit.
Just a day before this, the media had the Union government as being anti-North Indians. The scapegoat used was another Union Minister Kiran Rijiju. Speaking at a function, Kiran Rijiju quoted a former Lt. Governor of Delhi as saying people in north India enjoy breaking rules. He was clearly making a simple observation regarding the rising condition of law and order and people’s attitude towards the same.
Yet, the media used it to portray the Modi government as being divisive. Commenting on the issue, Arvind Kejriwal tweeted:
Rijiju ji, pl don’t divide Indians into North n south Indians, Hindus n muslims. All Indians r good. It is politics that we need to improve
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) October 22, 2015
And this tweet was quoted extensively by all mainstream media houses to establish how the Union government is dividing the country along regional and religious lines. One is left wondering, how did the issue of Hindu-Muslim divide even come into the picture? Similarly, during the Dadri lynching issue, though the issue was clearly a law and order issue, which is a responsibility of the state government, the media successfully managed to put the spotlight on the central government, thanks to some senseless comments by some BJP leaders themselves. If anything, the BJP leaders can be accused for their foot in the mouth syndrome, despite of knowing how mainstream media are quite vocal about its anti-Modi, anti-BJP, and anti-Union government stand. But, that does not make PM Modi or his government divisive or hostile to certain communities. The media has repeatedly adopted its tactic of first blowing a trivial issue out of proportion and then twisting it to misguide public and portray the Union government as being anti-Dalit, anti-minority, and as against any idea of united, safe, and secure India. Worse still is the narrative that the media is carrying out, especially around sensitive issues like those of Dadri lynching that makes one wonder whether the media is a watchdog of democracy or is it promoting an agenda to bring down the Modi government by causing nationwide unrest? This is not an assessment of just this writer. Hundreds of people across the country have recognized this trend which they have expressed through the hashtag #MediaWantsRiots on Twitter. Madhu Kishwar, an Indian academic and writer expresses similar sentiments in her tweets:
Disgusting how VK Singh’s comments being deliberately distorted by media.Forget dogs, even if a mosquito is killed media puts blame on Modi — Madhu Kishwar (@madhukishwar) October 22, 2015
Becoming increasingly clear that anti Modi opposition is preparing the ground & atmospherics for large scale riots to bring down Modi govt.
— Madhu Kishwar (@madhukishwar) October 22, 2015
Let there be no mistake, the media is not being criticized for its genuine criticism of the working of the government. It is being criticized for ignoring the real issues and giving unnecessary coverage to the trivial one’s with a clear biasness in its commentary. Senior journalist Surajit Dasgupta rightly asks in his tweet:
But, the media continues to ignore all criticisms of biasness against its reportage. The criticizers have been branded as ‘pseudo-patriots’ and ‘bhakts’. It is high time to start asking the difficult questions: Is media really running anti-India agenda? Is the media abetting breaking India forces? If yes, then who is the mastermind behind this anti-government propaganda?
Thankfully, at least one public intellectual has started asking these questions.
Well being of our society seriously endangered by 24×7 news channels.Who’s masterminding these anchors into instigating fasaad over trifles?
— Madhu Kishwar (@madhukishwar) October 22, 2015