Kaun Banega Mantri?
It was a more interesting game than the Amitabh Bachchan’s highly popular Kaun Banega Crorepati. Except that those who wanted the hot seat could not read Narendra Modi’s mind and oscillated between hope and despair. The speculation game, who will be ministers, what will happen to the oldies, LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, started as soon as Narendra Modi reached Delhi after the spectacular victory on May 16. Advice poured in aplenty. Most wanted a leaner, trimmer cabinet because Modi was under no compulsion of coalition politics. Re-structuring of the ministries would not only save millions but also raise efficiency. No reaction came from Modi. Except that his motto indicated that he believed in small is beautiful (read more effective).
But driven by their ambitions, car loads of aspirants and hopefuls for a ministerial berth made a beeline to Gujarat Bhavan where Modi put up. The list of those who went to see him is too long to be given in a limited space. But except the “seniors” LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Sushma Swaraj almost all BJP members were spotted. But no leak gave the media any breaking news chance. For the first time, the ace scoopsters in the media were unable to penetrate the thick wall, Modi had hermetically sealed the list in his mind.
Things stirred up again when Modi went out and met Advani and Joshi. Would Advani become Speaker? It was reported that he was keen to be made one. Not much could be said about Joshi. But the media did ‘allot’ various portfolios to Swaraj. Reports said that she wanted one of the top four ministries—home, finance, defence or external affairs. Then one fine day, she went to meet Modi. This was quite a climb-down for her. Sources said that when both the RSS and Advani told her that the cabinet formation was being done by Modi alone—all by himself—she was left with no option but to deign to meet Modi.
Even on May 26, the day of swearing-in, one could only guess about those who made it to the Modi cabinet. For, Modi, it was reported, called those selected by him for chai-pe-charcha at Gujarat Bhawan. The list of ministers was thus compiled by the media. It allotted portfolios without any information from official sources. The list was sent to the President’s Office which had to make various arrangements, seating according to seniority, information to various ministries for allotting cars and such like. But the proviso was that the list must not be shown to the press. The mystery thus could not be solved until the evening.
Why was such secrecy? Is this Modi’s style to spring surprises? Possibly, the speculations help him in giving him more options. Reportedly, Modi did joke that the media made his cabinet formation much easier.
One thing that was clear, there was no puppeteer like the one at 10, Janpath ‘helping’ constitute the Cabinet. Not even the RSS.
BBC’s true colours
The British rule was marked by divisiveness in many segments—Hindu/Muslim division being most damaging, and while leaving, their ingrained divisiveness led to Radcliff drawing a blue line to divide India into two. Yet the BBC had the gall to decry Narendra Modi which showed how much the BBC like the British media suffers from Hindu-phobia. In pursuance of their anti-Modi policy, which they see through anti-Hindu prism, BBC very cleverly formed a panel for its Newsnight programme—anti-Modi ‘intellectuals’.
The result: William Dalrymple along with a new sidekick Anish Kapoor went on an anti-Modi rant including calling him a mass murderer. The programme was so one-sided and seemingly with an agenda that many in the Indian Diaspora took umbrage. The British MP Priti Patel wrote a strong letter condemning the attacks on Modi to the head of the BBC Lord Tony Hall.
“Many in the British Indian community, particularly those of Gujarati origin, were offended by the reporting about Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi. Instead of focusing on the policies and the vision that the new government in India is now likely to implement, the programme focused exclusively on Modi and his character.”
She pointed out that from the beginning of the broadcast, Modi was portrayed by the presenter, Yalda Hakim, as a “controversial figure”. In her opening comments she stated: “What can India and the world expect from such a controversial figure.” Is this objective reporting? The BBC, which should be impartial, gave acceptance to the political position of Modi’s opponents rather than reporting objectively. The worst was the presenter’s “To some he (Modi) has blood on his hands….”
No details were given nor were these mentioned. The enquiries and convictions got no mention. Nor the cause that triggered the riots, which is Godhra, was given. Moreover, although the deaths of Muslims in the riots were referred to, at no point were the deaths of Hindus referred to, despite the fact that these were reported on the BBC website in 2005.
“Coupled with the frequent references to Modi and the BJP being Hindu nationalists, the manner of reporting created an inaccurate representation of the riots and portrayed the insinuation made by Modi’s political opponents that he was, in some way, involved in the riots.”
Invitation to artist Anish Kapoor, and to portray him as an expert on Indian politics was bizarre. Kapoor has spent the last 40 years living in the UK and is an artist. He has no record as an expert on political affairs. In a clip that was also used in the introduction to the programme, he said that “India’s dreamed itself a dream with a mass murderer as its main character,” alleged Patel.
When explaining what he meant by the phrase ”mass murderer”, Kapoor stated that India is “on the edge of a sectarian, partisan, violent approach to all kinds of issues”. Such “gems” are telecast by BBC from time to time. One wonders how people are given the tag of intellectuals. And have these intellectual the authority to pronounce their judgment on anything or anybody? It is best to ignore them.
India today does not need character certificates from goras or desi goras in Britain or BBC. They are of no significance to India. The only thing which hurts is the two participants of the Newsnight are given so much importance in India. There is still a section for which the goras or those who live in goraland are bade sa’ab. How sad!
The ‘Courage’ of Javed Akhtar
The Delhi’s glitterati at a party given by Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi was enjoying the food and was in a vey liberal mood. Elegant ladies in chic and mis-matched saree blouses milled around Aatish Taseer—son of Tavleen Singh—holding forth on his trip to Varanasi and Amethi, and the charismatic Professor Mushirul-Hasan, according to a Times of India report.
This was nothing exceptional. The hosts are known for their wonderful dos with a literary and artistic touch. But not many were expecting that Javed Akhtar would defiantly defend Modi’s secular credentials. A man, who even on the recent Karan Thapar’s programme was full of anger, had changed his views. A 180-degree turn-around! The response was on expected lines.
Most said it was chameleon like, he changed colour with the change in power equations. But Javed Akhtar needs to be complimented, if he is genuine in his radical transformation. One is entitled to change his or her views. And one should have the courage of conviction to admit that he or she has revised his/her opinion. That is what Javed has done. He must at least be given benefit of doubt. Wait and watch.