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