Friday, September 28, 2012

Mamata Stings Rajdeep Sardesai

One of the thrills of a job well-done is getting a compliment and Rajdeep Sardesai is justifiably thrilled with The Telegraph’s report on his interview with Mamata Banerjee (MB). Well, the Social Genius did say that when it came to political analysis RS is “Numero Uno”. So it must be thrilling for the “Numero Uno” of political analysis to be covered by the “Numero Uno” paper of Kolkata. Incidentally, the tweets were on September 27 morning. Catch the interview on the CNN-IBN website with the transcripts. The transcripts don’t cover the full interview but just about less than half of it. One wonders what happened to the rest.

MB is a former Congress member who set up her own party, TMC, and has performed a once unthinkable miracle of unseating the CPM from power in Bengal almost single-handedly. For this CNN-IBN had awarded her the “Indian of the year award” (Politician). She makes some statements in bits and pieces so those have to be interpreted. RS has frequently called her a “street-fighter” and he does so during the interview too. There isn't much in the interview from MB on the political front that isn't already known. What Rajdeep may not have anticipated is the manner in which she slammed the media in general and a bit more. Let’s see some exchanges (edited excerpts):

RS: Sonia Gandhi the other day said that the government is stable and it will last its full term till 2014. Do you believe that this Manmohan Singh government will last till 2014?
MB: It is stable of the corruption, by the corruption, for the corruption. But it is not stable from the public point of view.
RS: When you say that are you saying somewhere that you feel that the Congress will threaten other parties like Mulayam and Mayawati to support it, that they will use the CBI for example, is that your fear? That they will try to stay in power using ‘saam’ (influence), ‘daan’ (bribe), ‘dand’ (punishment), ‘bhed’ (division).
MB: Money power, muscle power and mafia power. These three powers they are using. I don’t know why. Why in our country, which has a democratic setup, why are we afraid of the CBI before taking any decision?....
RS: You believe that this government use to misuse the CBI to challenge their rivals? (Given that RS is such a great political analyst it’s good that at least at this point he has “discovered” that CBI was and is being misused. Must have felt like discovering fire).
MB: This is not only now, it is from the beginning when we were elected, since 2009 after Parliament elections….

Those statements by MB should have been headlines in every newspaper in this country. They are so dangerous that misuse of CBI and the rampant corruption threaten every democratic institution. Unfortunately, because this interview was given to a particular channel the other TV channels are likely to ignore all the statements made by MB. In the chat MB slams Manmohan Singh in a manner that makes him appear worse than a puppet and even mimics him on some occasions.

There are some more indicators that make terrible reading for RS during the interview: (By timeline in the video):

16.50: On the FDI issue here’s MB’s answer that raps media in general. I wonder if RS got the hint:
RS: ’Business Standard’ article says at 3.30 pm on September 20, Trinamool website had 2009 manifesto saying entry of large domestic and foreign capital in retail trade will occur and it has now been removed.
MB: No. They are some sections of the Congress, they are getting advertisements and money from the Congress. They have been paid by the Congress for image building programme, we cannot pay that amount.

I like the way RS has even noted the timeline of the Business Standard article. This attention to detail gets my admiration. But the transcripts have cleverly omitted a small detail. MB said they are paid 100 crores. I don’t think she meant Business Standard alone but that the media is being paid hundreds of crores by Congress for “image building”. That’s my interpretation. She was being kind. I doubt its only image that the payment is for. There has to be a lot more that can be bought for hundreds of crores.

26.47: RS asks if the reason for shifting of an Investment summit from Kolkata to Lucknow was caused by MB’s walk out of UPA. Hardly any doubt but what exactly has UP achieved under Akhilesh Yadav for this reward? Well, I suppose 24 hour power supply to the Gandhi family constituencies might be a good place to start.

32.08: On reforms MB states this is influenced by some “big friends” who want some reforms and that is what influences the decision. She goes on to state that to please these “big friends” the GOI treats “Indians as guinea pigs”. Umm.. publicly the Congress calls them Aam Aadmi though.

But Mamata Banerjee reserved the most resounding slaps for Rajdeep Sardesai. Some of these are not going to make headlines on his channel or any media outlet for obvious reasons.

36.35: To a question on development MB tells RS he cannot sit in Delhi and talk about development in Bengal without going into any details. Isn’t that true for most of our media celebs who conduct interviews? No research, no homework but go a with a general ‘stereotype’ question. I hope RS learns.

41.35 to 42.14: RS repeatedly taunts MB as running a One-woman party as even the tagline in the pic from the interview labels it. He even asks her if “Party is Mamata and Mamata is party” and later if she sees media as her enemy. First she mentions how corporations and political parties have bought media and then MB makes a stunning point to him: “Ask the people whether the media plays a neutral role or not”. I think in very polite words MB told RS that most media channels are Congress “brokers” though she didn’t use the words that I do.

Then, on the issue of whether she is running a one-woman party she points to Mulayam and SP, Mayawati and BSP and finally Congress too when she challenges a stung RS thus: “Why don’t you ask this question to Sonia Gandhi. Because you people have no guts”. RS comes up with a lame excuse “but she doesn’t give interviews like you”. Well, a responsible media would have told the Congress ‘take a walk, we won’t cover you if your bosses don’t allow fair time to the media. We won’t cover you if you don’t disclose illnesses and travels of your party leader’. Instead, our media, just like RS does, ridicules those who do give them interviews and even ridicule medical treatments of other party leaders. Shameful for Rajdeep! Maybe Rajdeep and other media celebs are just as scared that if they challenge Sonia Gandhi the Congress may let the CBI loose on them. That may produce some disastrous revelations like Radiagate. Wouldn’t it?

42.49: And to the repeated question on TMC being a one-woman party MB drives a hammer through Rajdeep’s head. She says: “If I ask anyone who runs CNN-IBN everybody will say Rajdeep Sardesai”. I wonder if RS got the message. That he is running as much a personalised organisation that he accuses MB of. When it comes to CNN-IBN it gets even worse considering he hires his spouse as deputy editor. That is cronyism plus nepotism. Whether one agrees with MB’s politics or policies she did deliver a rude awakening for Rajdeep. Will he learn? Your guess is as good as mine.

Somewhere in the interview Mamata Banerjee explains her frustration, which seems to reflect those of citizens as well: “Every day we wake up with the fear that what will happen next. Sometimes they will increase the price, sometimes they will go for FDI in retail, sometimes they go for corruption”. Haha! Though the last part is funny, I think she was a bit off the mark. The “go for corruption” is consistent and continuous and not sometimes


  1. After reading this, i begin to wonder...

    Mamata isn't as crazy as she is portrayed in media. So, is this image also a media creation?

  2. Fantastic article! I enjoyed her interview too:).. Doesnt pull her punches, does she!

  3. did anyone see & hear Rajdeep getting slapped without the use of a hand. read this article. He has got this special treatment earlier from NaMo in the HT summit 2007

  4. MB does not sugarcoat her words. She knows media politics and sometimes gets frustrated by it. The only issue is while venting anger she is not articulate enough and media turn that in to a front page or 9PM news. Recently I am noticing a few interviews where the likes of BD, RS AG are getting slapped from Gadkari, Raj Thackeray and MB. Feels good :)

  5. To be fair, RS does touch upon an important issue: misuse of CBI. Not for nothing has it been dubbed the Congress Bureau of Incrimination. I believe Chidambram fine-tuned CBI into an agency whose premier role is to keep congress in power. I don't know who has suffered greater damage, the country or the CBI. By the looks of it CBI will have to be completely dismantled, like the Bangladesh Rifles.

  6. in write up it is there at 16.10 min
    No. They are some sections of the Congress,

    Actually Mamta says, "they (may be 'there') are some sections of press. They are getting money from Congress party." she did not say from Government but clearly from congress party. it can be considered that congress is government. but this write up indicates that press is also congress. substitute purity (P) of press with conning (Con) and glue (G) the modification. you have got it. i think this shows how much similarity is there.

  7. I love it when those pea-brained media anchors get bitch-slapped in there own bedroom.
    Your articles just deepens my Joy ! ! !

  8. Hi Ravi,

    I have run out of words praising each & every article of your. Need a new dictionary to find new words to describe your articles.

    Anil Kohli

  9. u could have very aptly described rs' facial gesture changes then when mb had a cross court & straight hit that passed and did land him nowhere

  10. Mamta Banerjee may not be a good administrator but she is always forthright and has her heart in the right place.Have never seen her ambigous or do flip-flops on any issues.And people saw that and voted her to power.
    Maybe too direct and honest to be a politician unlike her counterparts in UP and centre.
    Pity she would have made a great journalist for her bravery and honesty than the guy interviewing her

  11. India needs more supposedly 'sanki' people like Mamta to boldly expose some open secrets in this crazy, secularism obsessed country of ours!

    The way this chor media stands more exposed with each passing day is truly amazing...this needs to reach more & more people.

  12. How can MB expect trained dogs to bite its master/mistress? The MSM dogs are fed on real steak, all imported, by Congress, so will attack and bite and even kill anyone who threatens or perceived to have threatened master/mistress.

  13. Great write up Ravi. Relish each sentence of your articles. Thanks and keep going.

  14. Mamata Banerjee's problem is that the good stuff that comes out of her mouth is usually overwhelmed by incoherent rambling. And the crazy things she does, such as arresting those who question her, blaming people without providing adequate reasoning, etc. completely erode her credibility. So, when she does talk logically, no one is around to listen.

    The Congress bought media (and trust me, there are many publishers who are, or dearly want to be part of that particular gravy train) will gladly use all such incidences of Maophobia and rather bad advice from her chamchas to destroy that credibility. In general, if you watch carefully, you will see most sections of especially the English media pounce on anyone who is not with the Congress or has decided to part ways with the Congress.

    These publishers get fed the Congress line (along with tender notice release orders and full page ministry advertisements) peppered with a little xenophobia of what will happen to them when the other side comes into power, now that they are well known to be on the Congress account. They gladly take the bait and the pro Congress propaganda goes full steam ahead.

    And so you have anchors and editors swooning over Rahul baba, and yearning to see him as PM. They know that when he is on the hot seat, the generals around the prince and the queen will have the real power. Which means more government advertising, and for most media houses, more government contracts.

    The opposition, and particularly the BJP, is learning this game too. But with the kind of losers they have as media managers, and dumbass spokespeople like Javdekar who look like they are grinning even when talking about serious issues on camera, they have a tough task ahead.

    Thanks to BJP's anti English xenophobia and a foolish upper-caste Hindu and anti Muslim image, which they are unwilling to change, not many of the English educated bunch want to be seen as part of the party. Perhaps that is a good thing. But then, state BJP governments stuff papers and television channels with government ads to shut them up, just like the Congress, but get less bang for their buck.

    A thorough cleanup of the media is more important, with complete ownership transparency in media houses, and public availability of all their other business interests, and mandatory disclosure below all stories which may affect those interests.

  15. Given the situation in WB today. MB really has no other option but to out left the left. In order to destroy the left completely. Having said so, at the moment she runs the risk of being destroyed by the INC-Left combine. Since she has parted ways from the INC.

    She is in the most difficult position. I wish her well, that she may undo the damage done to WB by the decade of left misrule.


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