Monday, March 09, 2015

Revenge of the media

Dear Narendra Modi,

The media waited for 12, make that 13 years, for this moment.

For 13 years, they tried to drag you down - obviously in cahoots with your greatest friends the Congress. They threw people, false charges, encounters, innuendos. They threw money at people who could bring you down - it included discredited officers, NGOs, media persons and even enlisted foreign agencies for this purpose. They fabricated books, blogs and even tried to create international uproar. But they could never do it. Even today there are anchors who are so drowned in hating you that it is hard to believe that such people can be objective.

And yet, it did not matter - partly because you were in the right and partly because of your own resolve and your ability to take it head on.

They tried their very best to prevent you from becoming Prime Minister. From projecting Rahul Gandhi to supporting Kejriwal in Varanasi to turning a blind eye to every single scam that UPA provided in the name of development. They found out non-existent rifts between you and your party. They tried to bring your party down by going after key people. And there are many other schemes and plots that they launched.

They searched high and low for #blowtomodi so much so that it was comical to see them search for a #blowtomodi day in and day out.

It helped that Gujarat was solidly behind you. And you put your passion into Gujarat. As a Chief Minister of Gujarat, you could not be touched because the people were with you and it was a place far away from them. Plus the fact there was a nincompoopish government at the centre looting money senselessly so they grudgingly had to expose some of the scams of that government however much they tried. But they tried. Till the last minute, they tried.

And they failed. You became Prime Minister. Initially they were distraught, but now they are not.

What they could never do to as Chief Minister of Gujarat, they can do now. And they intend to do so. Because they have a larger canvas to play now. It is no longer Gujarat. It is about India.

Why are they emboldened? For one, you have been soft on them and their masters (political masters). And they are emboldened by it. You have gone soft on many aspects which gives them a fighting chance they way they see it. And second you have landed their lair - because from Gujarat you have landed into the incestuous club of Lutyens Delhi. And this is their world.

This is their playground. Where they know everybody - including some of those who are close to you. And this club is nurtured by the Congress and almost other successive governments -including NDA. But it is the Congress that has been the longest in power and this is an ecosystem, the Congress has nutured and they support the Congress under the guise of neutrality - it is so indistinguishable and embedded. The Congress  (and frankly other governments also, but majority Congress) gave them business, access, a free ticket to the corridors of power apart from a free ticket when the Prime Minister used to travel. They get contracts, juicy interviews and information, leaks. Presumably favors go the other way as well, like hitting the mute button when it is convenient or drumming up the right news and drumming down the wrong. Or just when a big scandal is about to come up, create noise in another direction. This world also has international connections, so dialing up a phoren reporter to do a hit-job is not very difficult. They have tie-ups with universities these days so a study (however dodgy) can easily validate any confirmation bias (of which they have plenty) that they have. You will see all of this happening soon. Books, studies, data - that go beyond routine hit jobs. After all they need to do all this to get their ecosystem back.

Why, it is one of their own that led Advani up the secular garden path in 2009. And quite possibly Vajpayee too - by making him a statesman at the end of 2004 (apart from the Kandahar hijacking and possibly reining in our Kargil stratagem). Both these strategies effectively de-fanged them leading to campaign as toothless tigers.

Yeh Delhi hai mere yaar - bas lobbying our access yaar.

Where everybody is linked to everybody else - the combination of Lutyens from which most media finds its roots, shoots and leaves and lobbyists, bureaucrats old and new, dealers, wheelers and everybody masquerading as somebody else. In this world, journalists accessed the corridors at will, ministers married journalists and vice versa, secrets flowed like contracts, access gave everything, from bedroom to boardroom everything was connected - better than the latest unified theory in physics - from interviews to coal blocks to oil blocks to real estate information to CWC contracts to safe houses to stock markets. There is much dirt under the hood, as you have no doubt discovered and as it was once uncovered with a certain Ms. Radio (yes, the spelling is wrong, but you get it). There are ex-editors who were on Fais payroll. And these are just the known ones.

And what have you done? Instead of co-opting them a la Vajpayee who believed that the Delhi media loved him and took them into their inner circle (and subsequently paid the price of letting the Trojan horse inside), you have blocked their access. You are not giving them interviews. Nor you are giving them 'sources'. Nor are you taking them with you on official trips. What is worse, you have now stopped your ministers (who love studio hopping) from interviewing with them at will.

They see their lives under threat. They are mounting a vicious fightback. Ever since you took over in May, have you seen any news escape from Delhi, but the bad?

They have tried to position you as a statesman (the Vajpayee strategy) and they have tried to position you as communal (a label you are familiar with). The two of these are a lethal combination - it is a classic good cop, bad cop strategy.

The bad cop strategy is the communal positioning. You are used to it, but this is not Gujarat. Anything and everything that happens in any part of the country can be conveniently used to build this and that is not very difficult to do in a country as diverse as ours. As you have seen, a secular rape in AIIMS (by a doctor, no less) has been nicely buried, but the Nagaland incident is slowly being outraged upon. This particular one may well fail, but hey, anything goes for #blowtomodi. So, as part of this design, conversions, church attacks, a stupid suit, various sadhvis and their utterances are all being used.

The statesman strategy is a bit like the good cop. It is like telling you, be a statesman. Be nice. Make nice. Slow down on those cases. Be friends with the opposition. Remember, nobody ever - ever in 10 years asked Soniaji to be a statesman. Perhaps she was born as one or since they are all on one side, they are coated with teflon. You sir, are coated with velcro. Anything and everything will be thrown at you (as they have done for 13 years). And by the way, every Prime Minister wants to be perceived as a statesman and this is a tough trap to get out of. Because once you become 'statesman' the only way to get there is 'Nehruvian' and not 'Narasimhian' or 'Patelian'.

(First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they co-opt you, then you become secular and then you lose - just to twist a Mahatma Gandhi quote.)

It is this that they want to use to bring you down. A random terrorist incident involving foreign intruders on the high seas is blown up so much - so that you will think twice before cracking down on internal terrorists. Why? Because, you are caught between being a communal or a statesman. The ban on beef in Maharashtra  is another one that will be used to paint you as an aggressive Hindutva campaigner and of course there are other suitable sticks. (Every stick is suitable, by the way.)

This is what the media will do relentlessly for the next 5 years. And you need to do what you do best. Be who you are. Be what got you here. Use every tactic at your disposal. These guys don't deserve statesman Modi. And by the way, please go easy on those ads. That is not going to help. Go to the people - they have always been and will continue to be your best advocates.

And they are the proverbial dogs tail - that cannot be straightened because it is held in that shape by their political masters.

You know it because you have been through it for 13 long years. Heres wishing you the best to defeat their nefarious designs. 

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