The press conference conducted by Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid is probably one of the worst that has been conducted in the history of India. As more and more scams tumble out of the Congress stable, the grand old party far from coming clean in the issue is getting on a higher and higher horse.
Khurshid faces some issues about irregularities vis a vis the Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust. There are serious questions about a sum of Rs 71.5 lakhs.
Here are some of the lows which it touched…
1. The proposed ban: A central minister wanting to keep one media house out of a press conference is a new one.
Khurshid holds a public office and is answerable to the public and he cannot play favourites. Yet he wanted to keep the India Today group out.
It was only when the rest of the media took offence did he relent but Khurshid’s attitude towards the reporters from the above group was there for all to see.
2. The threatening tone: Khurshid far from remaining calm and cool throughout the conference looked like totally losing his cool on many occasions. He looked like walking out at any minute and kept pointing his fingers threateningly at various reporters.
Phrases like “Shut up”, “I will have to ask you to leave”, “Marta kya na karta” and those threatening court action and suing do not look good from the mouth of a representative of the Central government.
3. Probe the accuser: The Congress has come out with a new tactic to handle allegations. That is: Probe the accuser. They have tried it with Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi in the past. Here also Khurshid said that he was OK with an enquiry, but that the media house in question should also be probed.
This seemed quite bizarre. While whatever ill will there is between Khurshid and the media house in question, Khurshid has been elected by the people of India and is answerable to them. By setting a rider that his enquiry should be pegged with the media house enquiry, he is being unfair to the people of India.
4. Parading a handicapped: Many NGOs spend crores of Rupees and help hundreds of people all the time. Now by getting only one handicapped person and parading him in front of the press and getting him to say that he benefited from the NGO doesn’t prove anything.
In fact to prove his point, he would have had to get hundreds of people and parade them to prove that all the money was spent wisely. Parading just one person and getting a certificate from him doesn’t prove anything.
In fact what was more shameless after the man made his statement was the clapping and cheering that followed and they ended it with “Khurshid zindabad!” This was clearly playing to the gallery and did not prove anything.
5. The fish market: For this, everyone has to take the blame. Khurshid kept raising his voice, his wife kept getting up and speaking loudly and the crowd behind them also made a lot of noise. The reporters kept getting up and badgering Khurshid even though he showed absolutely no interest in answering them.
On the whole, the conference looked like a fish market.
6. Refusing to answer the man on the street: Khurshid has used quite a lot of unparliamentary language in the past to counter his allegations. Gutter snipes and third-rate are some of them. He was at it again when he said that he refused to answer the people on the street.
Well the people on the street are the common citizens of India and he has been elected by them and is answerable to them.
7. The real issue: Amid all the bedlam and mayhem, the real issue was buried under the carpet. There have been some very specific allegations in the whole scam and Khurshid refused to answer most of them directly.
In fact, he made some totally different points and wanted the reporters to acknowledge that first before moving on. Khurshid made a grand speech about how he was honoured by Oxford, talked of him being open to an enquiry, talked about a reverse sting that he had conducted (whatever that means), but he refused to get down on the specifics and just dwelt on the generalities.
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