The mainstream media has done many great investigative stories which have changed the way India thinks. Sometimes after months of detailed investigative reporting, a contrary picture has emerged to what has been thought as the reality.
Even TV channels have done a great job of not letting go of certain issues which otherwise might have been forgotten in a day.
However in the case of BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, the mantra has always been: Allege first and investigative later. The media court hanged Modi in 2002 and has spent 12 years in trying to justify that death sentence.
A look at some of these claims…
1. Modi masterminded Godhra: This was one of the first things that they drilled into India’s psyche in 2002. However all events have proved to the contrary. Modi took over in October 2001 and the train burning took place in February 2002.
In February 2011, a court convicted 31 people calling the incident a pre-planned conspiracy without any link to Modi whatsoever.
2. Modi allowed Hindus to vent their rage: Tens and thousands of people have been killed in riots in India and in most of them the police were silent spectators. So if we have a corrupt and mute police force all across India, then Godhra was definitely not an isolated case.
Modi is not responsible for the all the sins of all of communal India and the rotten police force and can only be judged by what action he took. Reports say that close to 8000 Hindus were arrested for criminal behaviour and close to 14,000 Hindus were taken into preventive custody.
The number of Hindus killed in police fire is also the highest for any riot in India’s history. The Army was called in immediately and police assistance was asked from neighbouring States and not given by Congress regimes.
While all CMs in the past fiddled while there States burned, this was the first time that a CM took such decisive action.
3. Modi would be sacked: The then Prime Minister AB Vajpayee wanted Modi to go. But that does not necessarily mean that he would be sacked.
Expert commentators should have realized that the RSS and hardline BJP leaders would never let that happen. And yet all the editors started behaving as if it was just a matter of time before Modi would go. Nothing of the sort happened.
4. Modi allowed x, y, z incident to happen: When Modi stayed and they couldn’t prove that Modi he masterminded Godhra, the media went into a state of shock. They then claimed that he was involved in this or that case. And they just kept coming. Best Bakery. Naroda Patiya. Ehsan Jafri.
The media claimed that Modi was specifically involved in many cases but could prove nothing in the end.
5. Modi would lose in 2002: Expert commentators came on TV and predicted Modi’s demise in the 2002 elections and were surprised when Modi won comfortably.
6. Modi killed Ishrat Jahan: This is a most curious case. It was the IB which masterminded this operation and the IB is the responsibility of Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh. The Gujarat Police were merely taking inputs from the IB.
If Ishrat wasn’t a terrorist and was killed innocently, then the blame also largely lies with Manmohan.
7. Modi would lose in 2007: When Modi won in 2002, it was justified as “polarization” and in the absence of that in 2007, Modi would finally lose, said his critics. Nothing of the sort happened.
His detractors had given up by 2012 and assumed he would win. They only hoped for a smaller margin of victory by which they could flay him.
8. Modi only had the support of hardline right-wing Hindus: The media has tried to portray Modi having the support of only “Internet Hindus” or “Modi bhakts” as they are disparagingly called. That hasn’t proved to be the case and he has a backing of a cross-section of society.
9. Modi’s online support was fake: I don’t know about you, but all the political promotions I get on Twitter are related to Nandan Nilekani and the Congress. The media is full of stories of Congress spending mega bucks to prop up Rahul Gandhi.
Like #PaidNews, #PaidSocialNews in the form of #eNREGA also trends more on Twitter. While all celebrity accounts have fake/inactive followers, the spotlight is put only on Modi’s account.
Modi is immensely popular in cyberspace even without RSS/BJP supporters and the media still hasn’t come to grips with that.
10. The people of India would never accept Modi: The media have always tried to present Modi as an extreme hardline figure who would always have limited appeal. Successful rallies in north, south, west, east and Northeast India have totally shattered this perception.
11. The BJP leadership would never accept Modi: The media was almost daring the BJP to announce him as a PM candidate and clutching at straws (LK Advani) to prevent that from happening.
12. The allies would never accept Modi: This one has come crashing down like a pack of cards. While the Shiv Sena and SAD never left them, they managed to get smaller parties in both Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
In Andhra Pradesh, all the parties: TDP, TRS, YSR Congress have stated they wouldn’t mind being part of the NDA. The Bihar the LJP was a major coup and even the AGP is interested in Assam.
NC, NCP and DMK leaders all praised Modi showing they were open to an alliance with him. Many more will want to jump in should the BJP get 200 Lok Sabha seats.
While the media can claim many of these harmlessly as “tall claims”, “errors”, “jumping the gun” or “prima facie observations”, the truth is that since there have been hundreds of them floating around in the last 12 years in the end they can be called nothing but lies.
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogshere.