Friday, September 30, 2011

Is the media charting an escape route for Chidu?

Pratap Bhanu Mehta discovers in his column in IndianExpress that Chidu’s problem is not Pranab Mukherjee but Manmohan Singh! Since Manmohan’s credibility itself has diminished, his defence of Chidu does more harm than good.

R Jagannathan picks this up in his columnin Firstpost, enlarges the same and declares that if Chidu could have stopped Raja from selling the spectrum, Manmohan Singh also could have stopped! After all, Manmohan Singh was more powerful than Chidu!

Shekar Gupta argues in “The Buck Stops here” that it was more a failure of Manmohan as a CEO than a fight between two ministers and a willing Barkha Dutta plays along by giving him ample time to articulate this theory.

Is there not a pattern in the media discourse especially after it became clear that Chidu would not be resigning and that there would be a patch up? That Manmohan Singh is indecisive and incompetent is neither new nor the point, but the fact that this is being used by media to carve a small aperture for Chidu to escape is.

What puzzles everyone is that why media has always been sympathetic to Chidu. The same media which could not tolerate Shivraj Patil’s incompetence does not mind buying Chidu’s facile argument that lack ofintelligence was not intelligence failure or accepting his hortative exhortations on fighting terror.

When the inter-ministerial note blamed Chidu for not restraining Raja from selling the spectrum, media chose to analyze the culpability of Chidu. Prime time debates in electronic media and columns in print media emphasized the need for establishing quid pro quo for determining culpability. A simple omission will not make one culpable, they surmised. Times Now, the otherwise anti establishment channel, also inexplicably took this line.  The Media conveniently sidestepped the argument that Chidu is morally responsible, that he did not exercise due diligence which he promised while taking oath of office and that this is reason enough for demanding his resignation. Not that this aspect was not discussed; it was, but was dismissed at the initial stage itself. Did the media, by arguing prematurely the culpability angle not try to divert the viewers’ attention? It will be na├»ve to assume that it did not.

CBI said in the court that it was an independent entity and the Central Government could not direct it to probe the inter-ministerial note. Media got a shot in the arm and gave it the maximum coverage.

During the days leading to Raja’s resignation, one could see TV crews camping outside his Delhi residence. Similar was the scene outside Dayanidhi Maran’s house in the days preceding his resignation. Did anyone see media chasing Chidu during the one week he went into hiding?

The 4 page letter which Pranab Mukherjee sent to Manmohan wherein he pointed out that inputs of various ministries had been incorporated in the note changed its perception. Two things became clear to media- one, Pranab Mukherjee is not going to take this lying low; two, it is not just the Finance Minister but a group of senior ministers and bureaucrats is against the Home Minister.

Suddenly Chidu looked vulnerable! The media discourse took the expected turn. It remembered promptly how Chidu and Kapil had mismanaged the Anna Hazare problem, how Sonia, in spite of being in an American hospital called Pranab to get involved and how Pranab solved the issue. For a couple of days one could see less Congress spokespersons and more opposition members in the TV debates.

Then came the signals of a likely patch up and a joint press conference. Media resiled to its view that Chidu would survive. And one started hearing the familiar arguments as the ones cited in the initial paragraphs of this article.

If ‘culpability’ argument was used earlier to divert attention, Manmohan’s weakness is being used now so that no one asks him to resign. That takes us to the title of this article.

Is the media charting an escape route for Chidu?


  1. I think MMS should have resigned from the post of Prime Minister after expose of 2G scam ,when two minister accusing each other ,later FM giving clean chit at the instance of Sonia is an attempt to fool people.
    It's now time for MMS to accept moral responsibility for 2G scam and tender his resignation.

  2. I don't follow politics much and since I'm out of country I'm not fully aware of the situation. But, I feel after reading your article is that some for reasons, Chidu is being protected. Forget about Oath, We expect someone of his qualification and intelligence to work with extreme sense of responsibility. If he is not,he is answerable. Correct me, if I'm wrong...

  3. Is the media charting an escape route for Chidu? Yes. It's very evident. Let's go one step further... or deeper... Why is the media doing it to him? One more step further or deeper... Why is media doing it to many other people like him? I wrote something on it last year after hearing about some inside stories from some of my media friends. Check it out here -

    By the way, as I had told you in one of the comments earlier, I used to be madly in love with this guy till few years back. Even when the whole world hated him, I believed in him and continued to admire him. I have realized now... that I was wrong. :(

  4. Right Sir.. I could hear Raja saying "if i am going down, every one will come with me"

    What ever escape route is provided, truth triumphs one day!

  5. I kind of agree with you. Chidu will only probably be replaced by some other incompetent guy anyway. Indian Media likes to take sides most of the times. Shun some, blame some, protect some. Chidu got lucky and Manmohan is probably so weak, that the media has given up on him!

  6. Media in this country is either muzzled, 'directed' or pampered. So whatever it does, is due to one of these categories.

  7. Well the media has its own favourites and now it looks like Chidu. I still cannot understand what is the threat that is hanging over our OM that he cannot resign. Is he waiting for Rahul Gandhi to clear some important entrance exam because I dont see Dr. MMS holding on to power just for the sake of it.

  8. I wonder if resignation will help? Has resignation ever helped in politics, you may better know as I kept my hands off this whole 2G scam. But, now I think, I should read and dig in to what happened that lead to this chaos and media bias. Media, anyways, has broken its limbs already. They are surviving on a wheelchair themselves.

    Chintu Singh

  9. All the three (Chidu, Manmohan, Pranab) are equally responsible but the problem is, atleast I dont know, who can replace any of these three within Congress party if they are forced to resign.
    2 days back I watched Karan Thappar's show... it made lot of sense but your point holds true for that show also... everyone started with accusing Chidu and then ended with taking shots at PM, making him more responsible than any other ministers involved.
    Harish Salve, Senior lawyer SC, did make lot of sense in his arguments on that show.

  10. Thanks Ravi Kumar. I agree MMS owes his resignation to the nation. Currently media is using this to divert attention from PC.
    Thanks Saru. You are absolutely correct. His education and intelligency should have made him more responsible.
    Thanks Bharathiraja. I have read your article and commented there.
    Thanks KP. I hope Raja takes PC also down.
    Thanks Richa. You have a point.
    Thanks Zephyr. Media of course is "directed".
    Thanks Meera. It puzzles me also why MMS is not resigning.
    Thanks Chintan. Resignation may not solve the problem. But it will definitely be a first step. He can be interrogated by CBI.
    Thanks Karan. I missed the programme.