Posts Tagged ‘Arun Jaitley’

‘Media irresponsible in Kishtwar coverage’

18 August 2013

The incidents in Kishtwar in Jammu & Kashmir on the eve of Id, the culmination of the holy month of Ramza, leading upto Independence Day, occupied plenty of media attention, as the BJP smelt political capital ahead of general elections.

The State’s chief minister Omar Abdullah sparred with the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, on Twitter; her counterpart in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, was disallowed from visiting the spot, and Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi, weighed in.

The issue threatened to get out of proportion till it was overtaken by other incidents.

The media doesn’t quite come out smelling of roses in the entire episode, writes Zahir-ud-Din, an editorial consultant with the Kashmir-based English daily, Kashmir Reader, in Deccan Herald:

“Contrary to established precedents, the media also behaved irresponsibly this time. Chief Minister’s statement (spelling out the number of Hindu and Muslim casualties) was carried prominently by all the newspapers. It became a Hindu-Muslim issue.

“The media in Jammu Kashmir has matured enough due to two decades of bloody conflict. By and large the media have behaved responsibly.

“For example, the Chittisingpora massacre was reported by one of the leading newspapers of the state without mentioning the faith professed by the victims. The intro of the story read: ‘Amid shock and utter disbelief the people mourned the killing of 35 Kashmiris at Chittisingpora, a hamlet in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district.’

“Similarly the 1998 Wandhama massacre was reported with utmost responsibility.

“What, therefore, happened this time? Why did mediapersons resort to reckless and irresponsible reporting? Why was Chief Minister’s irresponsible statement carried prominently? This type of reporting is a serious offence under Section 153-A of Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) and if law is allowed to take its course, all the newspapers that carried the statement and the Chief Minister himself can be booked.

“A senior journalist while commenting on what he called ‘molestation of journalistic norms and ethics’ said a victim is neither a Muslim nor a Hindu.”

Read the full article: The ‘Bhoots’ of Bhunzwah

Why Arun Jaitley is called ‘Bureau Chief’ in BJP

11 July 2013

One impossibly apocryphal story from the 2004 general election election is of a major newspaper group getting sucked in by the India Shining hype and making key editorial leadership changes on its reporting side, in anticipation of the BJP-led NDA returning to power, and falling flat on its face with the UPA’s surprise win.

An equally apocryphal story from the last few years is that most “scams” broken by the media (barring some honourable exceptions) are force-fed by political, corporate and legal interests seeking to score points against their rivals or, worse, against one of their own.

Both those pieces of gossip—and unsubstantiated gossip, they certainly are—gain fresh oxygen on the eve of the 2013 election season in the July issue of Caravan magazine.

In a cover story on the BJP putting all its eggs in the Narendra Modi basket, the journalist Poornima Joshi writes of the manner in which Nitin Gadkari was ousted as party president after it emerged in the media that his Purti group had been financed by shell companies.

“Although L.K. Advani had championed the effort to forcefully eject Gadkari from the president’s chair last year—over the fervent objections of the RSS—he was later convinced that Gadkari had been the victim of a conspiracy to tarnish him with an orchestrated campaign of planted stories in the media.

“Inside the BJP, suspicions pointed to Arun Jaitley, the Rajya Sabha opposition leader, who is known within the party as “bureau chief” for the extraordinary influence he wields at two large-selling national dailies where his favourite journalists run political bureaus.

“Although nobody knows whether Jaitley was actually responsible for the stories, most people in the BJP, including Advani, believe that he was. Jaitley and Advani, who were once seen as pupil and teacher, have been in enemy camps since last December, when Advani put forth his acolyte Sushma Swaraj, the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha and Jaitley’s bête noire, as a nominee to replace Gadkari as president.”

Read the full article: Strategems and spoils

Illustration: courtesy Rinelaff.com

Also read: Who are the journalists running and ruining BJP?

Don’t laugh: do journalists make good politicians?

How The Times of India went after N. Srinivasan

3 June 2013

toi

ARVIND SWAMINATHAN writes from Madras: Depending on what you expect of your newspaper, either The Times of India played just the right role in the N. Srinivasan matter: proactively taking up an issue that concerns a “nation of a billion-plus”, right up to the very end, even if it did not secure the end it would have liked.

Or, it plainly overdid it, to the exclusion of all else, eventually falling flat on its face.

Over a 13-day period beginning May 22, ToI ran 87 pieces (outside of general BCCI/IPL pieces) with the BCCI president exclusively in focus and almost all of them either demanding, provoking or predicting the end for Srinivasan following his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan‘s arrest in the alleged IPL betting scandal involving Vindoo Dara Singh.

Among these 87 pieces were seven editorials, mini-editorials and opinion pieces, five interviews, and four cartoons.

It even launched a public service advertising campaign (below) midway through the campaign.

toi

***

ToI‘s hunt for Srinivasan’s head—which even as of today is far removed from the original IPL spotfixing scam involving S. Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan—began on May 22, the day it launched its “I Lead India” campaign with the poser: “Do you feel you can be a changemaker?”

But it was only on May 28, the day after Srinivasan told a BCCI meeting in Calcutta that he would not resign following his son-in-law’s arrest for his purported involvement in betting, that the ToI coverage took on a more aggressive, advocacy air—eerily reminiscent of the paper’s Commonwealth Games campaign—urging board members, politicians and other sportspersons to speak up or quit to bring pressure on Srinivasan to do the same.

In making the murky BCCI saga its bread, butter, jam and marmalade day after day for 13 days, The Times of India relegated more important but less reader-friendly stories, like the massacre of Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh at the hands of Maoists to the inside pages.

# On May 26, the day after the Chhattisgarh massacre in which 28 people perished, the story was second-lead (as indeed in the Hindustan Times).

# Srinivasan’s fate was the lead ToI story on each of the 13 days; in contrast, the Chhattisgarh ambush found a front-page mention only on four days.

# Altogether, ToI ran 29 stories on Chhattisgarh as opposed to 87 on Srinivasan alone.

# Four times, ToI invoked the name of India Cements, Srinivasan’s company (“India Cements stocks hit 52-week low”, “India Cements brand to take a hit”, “India Cements disowns Meiyappan”, “India Cements underperform peers”) to drive home its point on Srinivasan.

# On May 29, ToI rounded up 30 talking heads seeking Srinivasan’s ouster.

The role of Times Now in drumming up the anti-Srinivasan mood is outside of this quantitative analysis, but with Srinivasan only “stepping aside” for a month at the end of all the sound and fury signifying nothing, the newsworthiness of the Times campaign is open to question.

Below are the Times of India‘s 87 headlines, graphics straplines, intros, editorials, mini-editorials, cartoons, interviews involving Srinivasan over the 13-day period.

***

May 22

Lead story: IPL fixing scandal could reach the top

Team-owner’s relative [Gurunath Meiyappan] under lens

Phone records link him with betting syndicate

***

May 23

Lead story: Police prepare to question BCCI chief’s son-in-law for betting links Day after TOI‘s report, CSK boss Gurunath Meiyappan elusive

BCCI chief mum on Meiyappan role

Editorial: Clean the Stables

A school dropout, Guru tried to build career in Srinivasan shadow

***

May 24

Cops land at BCCI chief’s family’s doorstep Srinivasan’s son-in-law gets summons, seeks time

[CSK] Team boss lost a crore on bets: Vindoo

BCCI brass faces fixing heat

Rules did not stop him from wearing two hats Industry captain and BCCI power player

From Board chief, the silent treatment

Srinivasan also under CBI lens in Jagan Mohan Reddy assets case

BCCI chief may use his clout

Interview: ‘Those at the top in BCCi should resign’: Lalit Modi

***

May 25

Guru arrested, Srinivasan may lose crown

After hours of grilling, cops say BCCI chief’s son-in-law ‘involved in offence’

Srinivasan rejects growing calls for resignation, threatens to ‘fix’ media

Interview: It’s either Srinivasan or Sahara, says Subroto Roy

India Cements shares at 52-week low

India Cements disowns Gurunath

Is Srini trying to insulate CSK?

Law catches up with the son-in-law

Srinivasan should quit right away, say voices in the BCCI

Interview: A.C. Muthiah has a go at his arch-enemy

***

May 26

Real final: Srinivasan vs Rest of India

Ouster plan: first nudge, then shove

‘I won’t be bulldozed into quitting, media unfair’: Srinivasan

Graphic: 3/4 majority to remove President

Strapline: Someone’s stepping down

Cricket fans should bat for a change

BCCI prez may manage to stay on

Law will take its course: Board chief on son-in-law Srini meets Meiyappan’s lawyers

‘Brand India Cements to take a hit’

IPL needs to cleanse itself from within

Former stars want BCCI prez to go

Srini men start lobbying, Shukla meets Jagmohan Dalmiya in Kolkata

Interview: ‘It was a huge mistake to bring Srinivasan into administration’: A.C. Muthiah

***

May 27

Weak-kneed BCCI falls in line as Srinivasan flatly refuses to walk

Strapline: Chief says he is above board

Editorial: The darkest hour—Srinivasan must quit, followed by the overthrow of cricket’s absentee landlord and revamp of BCCI

***

May 28

Lead story: Why are they silent?

Cartoon: He is taking bets on who’s going to be the first to resign

***

May 29

Lead story: Jyotiraditya Scindia becomes first neta in BCCI to say Srinivasan should resign

Strapline: Across fields, Board boss under fire ‘Time for him to go’

Talking heads with 30 voices

Interview: Srinivasan holds power and wields it: Kishore Rungta

***

May 30

Lead story: Finally, Rajiv Shukla and Arun Jaitley say they too want Srinivasan out

Cracks widen in BCCI, even treasurer Ajay Shirke says he would have quit

Strapline: Chorus against Board boss swells

Six talking heads

Srini still has the numbers to hang on

Cheating case filed against Srinivasan

Strapline: Wheels within wheels

Minieditorial: calling for resignation

Jaitley, Shukla asked defiant Srini to quit; BCCI chief said ‘Not in my nature’

Third edit: The Sons-in-law factor, by Bachi Karkaria

Edit page piece: Rip the veil of silence, by Ayaz Memom

May the foes be with you: all the president’s men are fair-weather friends

The endgame has begun

Dalmiya denies he asked Srinivasan not to resign

No one in BCCI asked for his resignation: Shirke

***

May 31

Lead story: Majority now against Srinivasan, can call BCCI meet to remove him

Strapline: Board boss on a turning pitch

How Srini gave himself a life term

Srini’s conflict of interest hearing from July 16

Cartoon: I’m going to hang on to this post as long as I want

India Cements underperform peers

Anti-Srini camp won’t wait for probe

19 talking heads on which way board meet will go

***

June 1

Lead story: Game all but over for Srinivasan

Six days after BCCI boss declared he had board’s unanimous support, he’s running out of partners His no.2 and no. 3 quit, several more top officials to follow suit

Cartoon: Punchline: The best spot-fixer I’ve seen—he’s so fixed to the spot that no one can get him away from it

***

June 2

Lead story: Srini sets terms for exit, BCCI members unwilling to play ball

Strapline: His four demands

Mini editorial

Srinivasan wanted Shukla to go too

Advertisement: “To run sports in India you don’t need to be good in games, only in gamesmanship”

Srinivasan vs ICC

***

June 3

Lead story: Match result: all out for no loss

Srinivasan to ‘step aside’: some say it’s a face-saver for him, others call it an anti-climax and a sham

Strap line: Will he really sit it out?

Editorial: nation dismayed: BCCI’s credibility lies in tatters as India’s cricket fans are sold a lemon

For Srini, a strategic time out

‘Nobody dared ask Srini to quit, only he spoke for first 40 minutes’

Cartoon: I’ve stepped aside

Srini shot down Shashank Manohar‘s name

***

Infographic and advertisement: courtesy The Times of India

***

Also read: The Times of India and Commonwealth Games

107 headlines from TOI on Commonwealth Games

How The Times of India pumped up Team Anna

When a politician’s wife goes to college, it’s news

22 April 2013

The BJP leader Arun Jaitley is widely speculated to contest the next general elections from Amritsar, causing much grief to the three-time sitting BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu. And as naturally as night follows day, newspapers and news agencies show that the schmoozing has begun in right earnest.

HT springs to ToI’s support in Times Now case

16 November 2011

Admittedly, the Justice P.B. Sawant libel case against Times Now is a grave one with serious implications for the media across the nation. Even so, it is worth asking if The Times of India-Hindustan Times jugalbandi—most evident when the arch rivals joined hands to float a (now-defunct) tabloid to stymie the launch of Mail Today from the India Today group four years ago— is back in full flow?

Some fresh evidence of it is visible in today’s issues of the two papers. While ToI carries a long story on HT Media’s complaint against a music company over royalty, HT has returned the favour with an editorial page piece against a Pune court order directing Times Now to pay Rs 100 crore in damages to former Supreme Court judge Justice Sawant, for wrongly showing his photograph in a news story on corrupt judges three years ago.

The author of the HT piece is the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha and the noted Supreme Court advocate, Arun Jaitley, who writes:

“As someone having familiarity with the quantum of damages Indian courts award, this order appears to be somewhat unusual. Observers are still unable to come to terms with the quantum of damages awarded even in cases of death or disability caused by Union Carbide in the Bhopal gas tragedy.

“The quantum awarded in various death cases, be it an accident or otherwise, in India, is normally modest. The quantum awarded recently in the Uphaar fire tragedy is a case in point.

“If a former judge is entitled to R100 crore for his photograph being flashed erroneously on account of being mistaken with another phonetically similar name, will this precedent be applied by Indian courts to other ordinary mortals who complain of loss of reputation on account of far more serious allegations?

“I am not aware of a single case where even 1% of this amount has been awarded to an ordinary citizen or a public person for loss of reputation. There is no better way of shutting down Indian media than by awarding punitive damages against journalists, newspapers or TV channels that are completely disproportionate to the value of money in Indian society.

“Each media organisation is expected to exercise due care and caution. Errors, however, will take place on account of the very nature of the news circulation business. If channels or newspapers are to suffer such an order, on the assumption that R100 crore are to be the normal damages awarded to a citizen, we may in the next 10 years become a nation without media organisations.”

Read the full article: Control freakery

Also read: Editors’ Guild backs Times Now in libel case

Don’t laugh: Do journos make good politicians?

23 June 2009

PRITAM SENGUPTA in New Delhi and SHARANYA KANVILKAR in Bombay write: The stunning defeat of the BJP in the general elections has been dissected so many times and by so many since May 16 that there is little that has been left unsaid.

What has been left unsaid is how the BJP’s defeat also marks the comeuppance of a certain breed of journalists who had chucked all pretence to non-partisanship and made it their mission to tom-tom the party, in print and on air, for a decade and more.

The Congress and the Left parties have had more than their share of sympathetic “left-liberal” journalists, of course. And for longer. But most were closet supporters unwilling to cross the divide from journalism into politics, or unwilling to be seen to be doing so.

However, the rise of the “muscular” BJP saw the birth of a “muscular” breed of journalists who unabashedly batted for the party’s politics and policies—without revealing their allegiance while enjoying its fruits “lavishly“—in a manner that would have embarrassed even the official spokesmen of the “Hindu nationalist party”.

Little wonder, Arun Shourie, the granddad of journalists turned BJP politicians, alleged at the party’s national executive meeting that “the BJP was being run by six journalists.” There are different versions doing the rounds on who the “Gang of Six” were, but some names are no longer in the realm of speculation.

# Sudheendra Kulkarni an assistant editor at The Sunday Observer and executive editor at Blitz, rose to be a key aide to both prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and prime minister-in-waiting L.K. Advani, even drafting the latter’s controversial Jinnah speech.

# Chandan Mitra, an assistant editor at The Times of India, editor of The Sunday Observer, and executive editor of Hindustan Times, found himself “mysteriously becoming the proprietor of The Pioneer, without spending a rupee thanks to the generosity of the BJP and more particularly that of L.K. Advani“.

# Swapan Dasgupta, the scion of Calcutta Chemicals (which makes Margo soap), rose to be managing editor of the weekly newsmagazine India Today, before emerging the unofficial media pointsman of sorts for Arun Jaitley and through him for Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.

# Balbir K. Punj, the sugar correspondent of The Financial Express, who churned out masterly theses on conversions and other sundry diversions for Outlook magazine, was nominated to the upper house of Parliament by the BJP like Mitra.

# And then there’s a motley crew of fulltimers and freelancers, including India Today editor Prabhu Chawla, Pioneer associate editor Kanchan Gupta, who did a spell in Vajpayee’s PMO, and weighty political correspondents and editors of The Times of India, The Economic Times and Dainik Jagran.

“Journo Sena” was what the tribe came to be called, an allusion to the “Vanara Sena” (army of monkeys) that helped Lord Rama fight the armies of Ravana in Ramayana.

However, in the unravelling political epic, the “Journo Sena” stands trapped in the crossfire of a party struggling to come to grips with a gigantic electoral loss, firing wildly at each other—or are being fired at by the big guns.

***

First, Sudheendra Kulkarni’s “candid insider account” in Tehelka, a magazine whose website was hounded out of business by the Vajpayee government, came in for searing criticism from Anil Chawla, a classmate of his at IIT Bombay, for blaming the RSS for the BJP’s plight.

“The patient is being blamed for all that has gone wrong, without in any way blaming either the virus or the team of doctors who have brought the patient to the present critical state,” he wrote in a widely circulated “open letter”.

Kanchan Gupta, who many believe was eased out of Vajpayee’s PMO by Kulkarni, took a potshot at his erstwhile colleague.

“Kulkarni who undid the BJP’s election campaign in 2004 with the ‘India Shining’ slogan and fashioned the 2009 campaign which has taken the BJP to a low of barely-above-100 mark has written an article for Tehelka, the magazine which tarred the NDA government, causing it irreparable damage, and is now the favourite perch of those who inhabit the BJP’s inner courtyard, blaming all and sundry except those who are to blame,” Gupta wrote on rediff.com.

In a rejoinder in Tehelka, Swapan Dasgupta welcomed Sudheendra Kulkarni’s mea culpa calling it “a welcome addition to the ever-growing literature on the BJP’s 2009 election experience,” but couldn’t resist himself from sticking the knife in.

“Kulkarni has provided some interesting insights but has also cluttered the picture with red herrings. This isn’t surprising.

There are many in the BJP who insist that the problem with Advani was Kulkarni“.

When former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha resigned from party posts, ostensibly miffed at the elevation of Arun Jaitley as leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha despite leading the party to defeat, Dasgupta rushed to Jaitley’s defence, wondering how the resignation letter had made its way to NDTV.

“TV editors I have spoken to have indicated that there were two parallel points of leak. The first was through an associate of Pramod Mahajan (who hates Jaitley) and the other was was the unlikely figure of a cerebral Rajya Sabha MP.

“I gather that the follow-up was done by a disagreeable journalist (one who signed the 20-points during the Emergency) whose nomination to the Rajya Sabha has been blocked by Jaitley on two separate occasions,” he wrote on his blog.

At the BJP’s national executive meeting, the “cerebral Rajya Sabha MP” Arun ShourieMagsaysay Award-winning former investigative journalist and author who became a minister in the Vajpayee government—”blamed six unnamed journalists who, he said, were responsible for articles damaging the [BJP] party interest.”

Whether the journalists were all members of the BJP or merely sympathetic to it, Shourie didn’t make clear.

In drawing attention to the journalists in specific, the former journalist may only have been indulging in the nation’s favourite sport of shooting the messenger but he was also underlining the role his compatriots were playing in the BJP’s affairs.

In his column in the media magazine Impact, Sandeep Bamzai writes:

“Arun Jaitley and his band of journalists-turned-politicocs misread the ground realities and the tea leaves completely. Buoyed by several wins in key States, this core team thought that the mood in the States would be mirrored at the Centre when the general hustings came along.

“Price spikes, terror threats and fulminations against a decent PM Manmohan Singh were the new imperatives crafted by Jaitley and his journo boys.

“The entire strategy fell flat on its face and all the journos who hogged prime time on new telly in the run up to the elections turned into disillusioned critics immediately after the results.”

In the India Today cover story on the BJP’s travails, Swapan Dasgupta’s former boss, Prabhu Chawla, seen to be close to incumbent BJP president Rajnath Singh, found fault with Singh’s bete noire Arun Jaitley for being spotted at Lord’s, applauding a boundary by Kevin Pietersen during the India-England Twenty20 match:

“Jaitley, a hardcore cricket buff, was in London with his family on holiday while his party back home was imploding, just like the Indian team.”

On a yahoogroup called “Hindu Thought”, the former Century Mills public relations officer turned columnist Arvind Lavakare, attacked Swapan Dasgupta, presumably for urging the BJP to junk the “ugly Hindu” image engendered by its commitment to Hindutva.

“After quitting a salaried job in a reputed English magazine a few years ago, Swapan’s livelihood may well be depending on his writings being published in a wide range of prosperous English newspapers which are anti-Hindu and therefore anti-BJP. If that is indeed so, Swapan simply cannot afford to project and push the Hindu line beyond the Laxman rekha. Poor dear,” wrote Lavakare.

The comment would perhaps have gone unnoticed, but Dasgupta gave it some oxygen by responding in kind in a post-script on his blog:

“I have no intention of affirming my credentials. To do so would be to dignify Lavakare’s personal attacks as a substitute for an informed debate on ideas.

“I merely hope that the attacks on where I write, who went to college with me and who are my friends are not in any way an expression of envy. It is a matter of satisfaction for me that I get a platform in the mass media (cutting across editorial positions).

“Engaging with the wider world is daunting but much more meaningful than gloating inside a sectarian ghetto. I strong recommend Lavakare also tries earning a livelihood out of writing for “a range of prosperous English newspapers”. It could be a humbling experience.”

Among the few journalists to have spotted the travails of the “Journo Sena”, or at least among the few to have had the courage of conviction to put it on paper, is Faraz Ahmed.

He writes in The Tribune, Chandigarh:

“When the BJP lost power in 2004, all the branded BJP editors—Kanchan, Swapan, A. Surya Prakash and Udayan Namboodri—were pensioned off to Chandan Mitra’s Pioneer. Today, however, each one of them is finding fault with Advani, the BJP and some even with the Sangh.

“These are ominous signs of the demise of a political party and reminds one of the slow and painful death of Janata Dal in the early ’90s when the ‘Dalam’ was dying and BJP was on the upswing and everyone was joining it or identifying with it because that was the most happening party.

“To be fair to these people who naturally represent the rising middle class, they waited patiently for five years in a hope that the UPA government would be a one-election wonder and would die a natural death in the next round. So much for their political understanding.”

Obviously, everybody loves a winning horse and doubtless the antics of the “Journo Sena” would have made for more pleasant viewing had the election verdict been the other way round.

Still, their antics in the aftermath of defeat raise some fundamental questions about their grand-standing in the run-up to the elections: Are all-seeing, all-knowing journalists cut out for politics? Do they have the thick skin, large stamina, and the diplomatic skills required for the rough and tumble?

From the embarrassment they have caused and are causing to their party of choice, it is clear that there is an element of truth to BJP president Rajnath Singh’s statement that he can “neither swallow nor spew out” the journalists.

Then again, L.K. Advani started his career as a journalist.

Also read: How come no one saw the worm turn?

The sad and pathetic decline of Arun Shourie

How Chandan Mitra has his halwa and hogs it too

Advani: Prime minister maybe, but not a good sub

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