How Chandan Mitra has his halwa and hogs it too

5 May 2009

One of India’s oldest English dailies, The Pioneer, has undergone not so much a transformation but a transmogrification in recent years.

Once a paper which had Rudyard Kipling on its rolls, and for which Winston Churchill served as a war correspondent, the low-circulation paper has returned to its politically conservative roots and become an unabashed mouthpiece of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Under Chandan Mitra, the Oxford-educated Marxist who now is a Rajya Sabha member nominated by the BJP, The Pioneer is one of the few mainstream English language publications to experiment with and articulate the right wing view, providing “the other view” as it were in an ocean of liberalism and so-called “pseudo-secularism”.

On Monday, Mitra told a “packed news conference” in Dehra Dun on how he managed to wear two hats with aplomb—one of an “independent” journalist and the other of a BJP ideologue:

“When I enter the newspaper office, I wear the journalist’s hat and once I come out of it, I wear the politician’s cap. In office, a journalist enjoys full autonomy. For instance, our bureau chief Navin Upadhyay had been to Orissa to cover the election and wrote a report that Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was a good chief minister. Later, I received 50-60 letters asking how a pro-BJP paper can publish such a story. I replied that this is how I maintain balance between the two roles. Once I realise that I am unable to do justice to my professions, I would leave one of them.”

Photograph: courtesy Rajya Sabha

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10 Responses to “How Chandan Mitra has his halwa and hogs it too”

  1. Andy Says:

    Does Mitra wear two caps ? Yes ! here’s why..few years back Mitra met a southern state CM in Delhi..the CM was ready for an interview ..imagine his shock when when he realised that Mitra has come ” personally request” the CM to release Advertisments for an in-inflight magazine he was editing !

    So much for his two caps crap !

  2. Dev Says:

    yesterday I wrote a comment on an article in Pioneer, which wasd critical of the BJP. The critical parts were deleted by the paper before they published it! So much for Chandan Mitra being an independent journalist!

    And, Pioneer returning to its ‘conservative roots’ is incorrect. BJP’s politics have nothing to do with conservatism, or right-wing politics. It is religious fundementalism. BJP is actually religious right wing (like all religious fundementalists), and not political right wing as Republican or Tory. The conservatives in US and Braitain are not religious right, they are merely political right.

  3. Prakash Says:

    But, why only Chandan Mitra is being dragged into the dock. Which newspaper in India does not have political affiliation? Should anyone talk about Hindustan Times in an open forum like this?
    And why not the “motive and identity” of person who wrote this article should be questioned?

  4. PoliticalObserver Says:

    No human being is completely free from bias. Birds of the same feather flock together. So, it’s inevitable that a newspaper’s editorial policy will show signs of a ideological weight. And that, by and large, is acceptable. What isn’t acceptable is the news pages (which are supposed to report facts) being biased. Facts are facts, and should be reported as such. From what I can tell, the Pioneer’s news pages are relatively free from bias, so I’m ok with this and do not really share the blogger’s concern.

  5. samir sen Says:

    It’s interesting how some journalists have a finger in every pie. Mitra is one person who makes it to every talk show. He is invited to every discussion on national issues. Of course, there are others like him, great scribes, who have only served themselves.

  6. Abhijit Singh Says:

    Mitra says wat he thinks is right and its not only him.Many parties and people across the world are voicing concern about Islamic Fundamentalism.We should not forget it was jamia people who were rallying in support for the terrorists who were killed or arrested during batla house.May be that was secularism in the eyes of bigots.

  7. Suresh Says:

    Chandan Mitra was sent by BJP to Rajya Sabha solely because he highlighted the full name of JM Lyngdoh in his paper’s headline to suggest complicity with Sonia Gandhi. Shame on Mitra. He is a blot on journalism.

  8. sandip Says:

    Nothing new, MS Gill when can join Congress even if being part of Independent Election Commission,Mitra joining BJP is nothing wrong.
    The joke of the day is whoever joins BJP is asked for secular credentials, but well no one asks congress involved in Sikh riots and the Golden temple massacre.if you want to judge judge on common grounds


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