In 1991 at the start of the first Gulf war the Alliance commander, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf had his forces in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Naturally, Saddam Hussein and his army expected an attack from the east. Well before the actual attack Schwarzkopf had moved a large number of forces and Iraq was attacked from the south. The war was over in 100 hours. While flanking the enemy there was an element of surprise. Many marketing terms have been derived from military strategies and tactics. On a simple board the game of Chess explains it just as well. Let’s take a media example: Times of India.
TOI’s greatest possession and brand is TOI, particularly the ‘Mumbai’ edition, which is also referred to as “The old lady of Boribunder”. It has a defensive flank to protect that brand. Sometimes it will throw up a paper called “The Independent” (Late 80s with Vinod Mehta as its editor) and kill it when the job is done. It will surround itself with a variety of magazines and tabloids, mostly enterainment, but ones that will keep the competition fighting silly battles but not dare to directly attack TOI. Is ‘The Hindu’ a threat? Okay, before they get to Mumbai, let’s take the battle to Chennai where The Hindu is strong and launch TOI. Let The Hindu keep fighting TOI in Chennai instead of entering the battlefield in Mumbai. Some may or may not know but the TOI even launched a Gujarati edition early 90s to battle local papers in Gujarat. It was simply called “Times of India-Gujarati”. That too was killed within a year. Naukri.Com threatens Ascent? Let’s combat them with Timesjobs.Com even if it has to play second fiddle. Over the years TOI-Group has killed Illustrated Weekly, Indrajal Comics and some more to protect its Old Lady. Lately, to cater to the “mini-bar-at-home’ types they have “Times-Crest” so that any newspaper wanting that space battles Crest and not the main TOI. TV cornering all PR money? Okay, let’s come up with “private treaties”. News channels eating into our business? Throw in TimesNow, ETNow, TimesMovies.
The Congress party in India runs a defensive flank too; one that protects the Gandhi family at any and all costs. Like a 'flank opening' in a game of Chess. There are pawns like Suresh Kalmadi and there are other pieces like Natwar Singh. Even large pieces like the late Vilasrao Deshmukh, Shivraj Patil or Ashok Chavan can be sacrificed. Mind you, if the worst ever happens even a Chidambaram or Sibal can be sacrificed to protect the King and the future King (In the Congress’ case we would have to substitute it with “Queen” and “future king”). It’s a flank that will do or die in protecting the queen, the most important and powerful piece on the board and also the King, who is practically a useless figure in the game, but his survival is the key. Do remember, the first flank in the line of defence is the MSM. The crooks! On October 1 someone did a Schwarzkopf to these flanks. Narendra Modi pulled out a newspaper, waved it and publicly stated 1880 Crores were spent on Sonia Gandhi’s travels and treatment over the last 3 years.
That wasn’t a bullet, that was a bomb that was rocketed towards the queen and naturally all the tin soldiers quickly assembled to encircle the queen to protect her. There was Manish Tiwari, Rashid Alvi, Renuka Chaudhary, Rajiv Shukla, Sagarika Ghose, Rajdeep Sardesai, Arnab Goswami and maybe some more. All encircling the queen in protection like an old Roman army formation. But where do our media run to first? Typically, TimesNow ran first to Digvijaya Singh. In the post ‘Stenographers & stray dogs” I had mentioned how the media treats its beat reporters like stray dogs and sends them running for crumbs to someone who always throws them bits and pieces of nonsense. Diggy didn’t fail them. He said: “Modi is a RSS Pracharak and RSS teaches its cadres to lie and shout those lies loud”. That’s a good start isn’t it?
So Rajdeep starts off with calling it a “personal attack”. Hmm.. how is the expense on a MP and a Cabinet rank political member a personal attack if the expenses and secrecy are questioned? Not to be left behind, the Social Genius follows ‘Numero Uno’ with the 1880 crores figure being “fantastical” in a tweet. Yeah, “Miss India” knows all the answers to such questions even before being asked. There, that’s the problem. Narendra Modi only opened up a can of worms that the media should have opened long back. They didn’t have the guts.
The media never asked questions about Sonia’s illness or treatment. They never asked questions about how she travelled and what the expenses were or who bore those expenses. Nothing! In fact, in an interview with Arun Jaitley, Barkha Dutt even asked him if it was fair to ask questions (on another issue) to Sonia Gandhi when she was ill. I guess that is why all our media folks were rattled, not knowing which way to jump when Modi brought up the question. We can, of course, dismiss the gutter rants of Manish Tiwari. We can also dismiss Renuka Chaudhary who believes guffawing like a hyena is good argument or defence. What we cannot dismiss is why the media was brazenly attempting to paint this as dirty personalised politics.
Having seen Modi quoting the figure of 1880 crores, all in the media, Rajdeep, Arnab and every Johny and his little dog were asking Modi to substantiate his claim. Looks like no one noticed that Modi flashed a newspaper from which he quoted the report and the amount spent on Sonia’s trips. Never mind! More important question is: Why should Modi have to prove something printed in a newspaper? Is it really his job? The real problem is that it wasn’t one newspaper that printed it in July 2012 and yet all our media folks ignored that report when published. Now that the report is being quoted, instead of verifying and fact-checking they are asking Modi to substantiate the report. Haha.. Can there be a more stupid case of media incompetence anywhere in the world? I doubt it.
The only person on any channel to have dug up info and verified the report was Prabhu Chawla (on CNN-IBN) who had cross-checked with “Jayhind”, the newspaper that carried the report based on an agency report. Now, Rajiv Shukla even called the agency (Hindustan Samachar) a RSS mouthpiece. Maybe he looked up and found a RSS-feed icon somewhere on their website and confused it. So Arnab gets the editor of Jayhind online and asks him about the report. The editor, Yashwant Shah, quite flustered with all the surround-sound and sudden attention to his small newspaper, meekly asks why his paper is being mentioned and not the agency which released the report. Arnab quickly concludes Yashwant Shah disowned his report. And Renuka Chaudhary claims the editor has rejected Modi’s claim. Have you seen greater stupidity by two people on national TV anywhere? But there, that’s our media for you. Sometime earlier in the day, TimesNow also contacted Ramesh Verma, whose RTI application was the one being referred to by newspapers and he claimed no knowledge of it. Quite surprising but it doesn’t alter the fact the news item was indeed published. (The report of Jayhind newspaper with the article in Gujarati is in the pic. Thanks to @sureshnakhua).
Regardless of what Narendra Modi said it is shameful for our media to not look inward and ask the question why they don’t have the details of Sonia Gandhi’s frequent trips abroad and what her illness and treatment was. They don’t even know if she is still afflicted by Cancer or fully cured. You should know this as much as you know about cricketer Yuvraj Singh. A few days back the media proclaimed Anjali Damania as a great hero for her unsubstantiated claims against Nitin Gadkari. Here you have a newspaper report which Modi throws at them and they are asking him for evidence. Even if we assume the figures or report was wrong, the questions need to be asked of the newspapers and news agency which published these reports. Media has no business in desperately wanting to hang Modi. If in his place it had been a media man they would have screamed “don’t shoot the messenger”. Wouldn’t they?
The latest is that media crooks claim Modi has apologised when he has not. What he did say was that he would apologise if proved wrong. Now that is trouble! Who’s gonna prove him wrong? And on what? To prove him wrong someone will need to come out with the correct figures spent on Sonia Gandhi’s travels and treatment. Coming out with those facts can be bad news for Congress and its foot soldiers in the media too. That’s the Catch-22 situation Modi has put them in. And Modi dropped the bomb just a day before Sonia Gandhi is to visit Porbandar on Gandhi Jayanti and campaign in Gujarat.
Just a few days back Mamata Banerjee slapped Rajdeep with a question: “Why don’t you ask this question to Soniaji, because you people don’t have the guts”. Oh.. you see they were busy playing the role of ‘Ten Tin soldiers’ in her flanks protecting her from any serious questions. Now that someone surprised them like Schwarzkopf did, they’ve been caught with their pants (dirty ones) down. Lesson for the media? Don’t flank the queen or future king. Democracy doesn’t have those, flank the Truth and protect it. You might still die, but it would be an honourable death!