HRD Minister Smriti Irani visited a Fabindia outlet in Goa some time back. She noticed that there was a camera in the changing room and she promptly informed the police. Now a lot of journalists, celebrities and activists visit Fabindia regularly.
So you would think that they would thank Smriti and be relieved that she caught the camera for it could have been them tomorrow! There is also the issue of invading the privacy of a woman and all women’s rights groups should have been up in arms.
However nothing of the sort happened. You see Smriti is from the BJP and is in the good books of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. That itself is enough for her to emerge as prime evil in their eyes who should never be defended.
Take the Outlook magazine cover story for example titled “No Jottings, The Babu Has Left The Building”. It began with…
“How an actress who has faced the biggest of television cameras of all sizes and shapes could get so rattled by a pinhole CCTV eye, we will never know. Nor why she raised such a shindig in a BJP-ruled state…”
You could be forgiven for thinking it was a spoof site and not a so-called “respectable” magazine. What that is trying to imply is that if you have a clothing store and an actress visits your store, then you have a right to put a spycam in the changing room! How bizarre!
One wonders what the magazine would have done if it was a Congress leader instead.
However the magazine used that incident to go hammer and tongs after her in a series of stories including the cover story. This also wasn’t an isolated case. Many media houses did speculative stories on how Smriti was on her way out and she always attracted controversies. Some also doubted her claims in the first place.
Take one journalist called @Rajyasree…
I had no clue that FabIndia makes clothes is XXXXXXXXL size. The things you learn from the news.
Usually when such an incident happens, people make fun of the person who crossed the line and not the victim. However if the victim happens to be from the BJP, then it makes sense to make fun of the victim instead!
Said senior editor @ShekharGupta…Terrible if cam looking in changing room. But also silly & sensational to call it spycam. Big stores world over have security CCTV coverage
Make what you will of this doublespeak which would have made George Orwell proud. Of course it does not help if your own party mates send out such Tweets as one from @M_Lekhi…
Do I smell a RAT2obfuscate the BJP nat. Executive meeting,attempts being made not to cover NE meeting instead cover some other inane issues?
No matter what Meenakashi Lekhi’s intentions were, this is more than enough fodder for all Modi haters.
Of course this is not a new phenomenon. Tehelka head honcho Tarun Tejpal was seen as one of the biggest crusaders against Modi and hence he could be forgiven for all his sins. Even if reports of financial irregularities come up, they could have been brushed under the carpet.
When rape allegations came up, the media became extremely shy of taking up the case. Alyque Padamsee tried to question why the girl got into the lift with Tejpal in the first place and others tried to cry a BJP conspiracy.
Even the otherwise balanced media watch site Newslaundry came out with a bizarre piece titled “Letter To Ms Tehelka-Assault-Victim” The heading itself is ridiculous. Tejpal was the alleged rapist and not Tehelka. Sample a sentence…“To begin with, I would like to establish quite clearly that I do not see you as a victim, unless it is of bubblegum feminism which I will speak in detail of later.”
That is the tone of the entire letter. In fact this time it was Arnab Goswami (who is sometimes horribly wrong and sometimes horribly right) who went hammer and tongs after Tejpal and got high TRP ratings and the rest had to unwillingly follow.
Finally there is the Khirki Extension raid. At the very heart of the case is that African women were molested. However the media had no sympathy with them. The dharna itself got great coverage and no tough questions were ever asked of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
He was seen as anti-Modi wasn’t he?
But if you don’t care for the rights of African women then how can you fight for the rights of Delhi women?
It is one thing to have strong political convictions to only one extreme side of the debate but it is totally another thing to rubbish women and become a misogynist just to support those very political convictions!
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here