On the evening of December 27 one should have watched the faces of Rajdeep Sardesai and Barkha Dutt. The vote to amend the Constitution for Lokpal’s status was just complete and the channels had more or less reported it ‘through’ but frantically seeking a confirmation because there was some ruckus on in parliament. Opposition leader, Sushma Swaraj, then pointed out to the Speaker that the numbers weren’t enough to amend the constitution. Even the speaker looked at the numbers in disbelief. Rahul Gandhi was up from his seat in disbelief. His ‘game-changer’ constitutional status for the Lokpal had just been ground to dust. Both Barkha and Rajdeep looked stunned before finally announcing the inevitable fact that the ruling Congress had lost the vote. As did news anchors on the other channels. One would have thought it’s the media that had lost the vote and not the Congress.
|The Game that didnt change|
The game hadn’t changed and someone had to pay the price. Someone had to face the wrath of the media. Well, who else could be more handy than Anna Hazare, the man who has tormented the Congress party for nearly nine months now. Anna had already started his protest fast at the MMRDA grounds in Mumbai but crowds were low compared to his earlier venture in August at Ramlila. With nothing else to lean on, the media had already declared the protest at MMRDA a fail! On December 28, the Queen was angry and the clown prince had disappeared to the potato fields again. The Lokpal bill was still hanging for approval from the Rajya Sabha. And the media was left debating the low attendance at MMRDA.
Talk about low attendance! A man who read out a written speech in zero hour and heralded his own meaningless idea of ‘constitutional status’ for Lokpal as a ‘game-changer’ was mostly missing from parliament. Except for second hand news Rahul Gandhi had no way of knowing what was going on there. His second appearance in parliament was for the amendment vote. That failed! And he probably didn’t even know why it had failed till someone had pointed out to him the reasons. Bhupendra Chaube of CNN-IBN wailed the best for RG when he asked Jagdambika Pal (Cong): “How could this happen, how can the Congress defeat Rahul Gandhi’s own amendment?” It almost sounded like Chaube and CNN-IBN had faced defeat themselves. Sonia Gandhi, of course, blamed the BJP and later even stated “Cannot trust the BJP”! I couldn’t help laughing at her joke. Since when did she ‘trust’ the opposition to pass silly amendments desired by the ruling party or specifically Rahul Gandhi?
And to her credit she did ‘debate’ the bill very hard. She breathed fire and ice in the parliament over the Lokpal bill. No? Don’t believe me, believe this pic from The Hindu and the caption below. That’s how the media paints and portrays the queen. The Hindu's caption read: "A TV grab of Congress president Sonia Gandhi participating in a debate on the Lokpal Bill in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday". If you saw the same pic and caption three years later you’d think she gave the greatest speech in the parliament.
Something had to be done. So the media turned their attention to Anna and MMRDA and by the evening on December 28 they had declared his protest a complete failure. The biggest rant against Anna Hazare came from Shiv Aroor of Headlines Today. Yes, the same journalist who is keen to know Anna’s views on pornography. The others weren’t far behind. A female journalist in her screeching voice asked Anna if “he was against Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi or against the Congress”. Such was the curiosity! NDTV played that question over and over again on their channel. Even the best minds at NDTV cannot fathom that people identify the Gandhis and Congress as being the same and therefore Anna’s attack against them on corruption is not entirely misdirected. Another vociferous journalist asked Anna if “BJP was his biggest enemy today”. Unfortunately, Anna’s answer couldn’t have gone down too well with the brokeress when he said “the biggest enemy today is the Congress”.
Since August, the media despite covering Anna’s protests would not have wanted him to succeed. Channels like NDTV and CNN-IBN even showered him and his team with sham awards. Those awards were like knives through hot butter except TeamAnna will realise that only in hindsight. TeamAnna had taken over the turf which the media had considered all of its own and these civil idiots had no business to campaign for any cause. Justice for this, justice for that has to be media monopoly, theatre has to be media monopoly, policy directions are media monopoly, national debates are media monopoly. So, when a daring old village idiot with a few assistants steals their cheese naturally they would be terribly distraught. And the failure of the amendment vote in LS and the lower crowds at MMRDA were perfect for the media to lash out at the failing anti-corruption movement of Anna. For months though the likes of Shekhar Gupta and Tavleen Singh have done their very best to tarnish the movement calling TeamAnna fascists and anarchists. TeamAnna has made many mistakes and they will be learning. But the biggest mistake they made was letting the govt get away when they had them by the scruff of their necks in August. They should have finished the task then and not left it to later. They did not reckon with the cunning ways of the Congress and the govt.
Right now, the Congress and the media are trying very hard to pin the blame on the opposition parties should the Lokpal bill fail in Rajya Sabha. No one, no one has been even sure that the Congress was sincere in passing the Lokpal bill. Ram Jethmalani even went on to say that the Lokpal did not need a constitutional status to be effective or successful. I have to agree that it doesn’t. This nonsensical ploy brought about by the private wet dreams of Rahul Gandhi was a diversion right from the start.
The single biggest bone of contention in Lokpal was the status of CBI on whether it should be under Lokpal or not. Ordinary people believe, as do many leaders, that corruption cases are used, misused and buried at the convenience of the party in power with the manipulation of CBI. If the CBI were truly independent or out of govt control even many media broking houses may have seen a fair bit of trouble. Media has to even thank the opposition leader Sushma Swaraj for keeping them out of the Lokpal. What happens in Rajya Sabha today will unravel in due course of the day. But the media, more than the Congress, behaves as if it has been defeated in Loksabha on the constitution amendment bill. That would be terrible then, Congress being beaten in LS and being beaten on the streets by Anna & Co. As a last resort Congress could call on Rajdeep and Barkha to broker a deal with the BJP.