Aren’t you wondering why the whole of India is going crazy over Tarun Tejpal and the Tehelka scandal? Isn’t there anything else to report? Aren’t all parties grossly overdoing it? Isn’t this whole thing being a tad overexposed?
That may be true. But there are a number of reasons why this case is unique, extremely important and why it is being discussed threadbare.
A look at them…
The Powerful Predator: Depending on what they do, the powerful are either supremely admired or supremely hated. Tejpal is one of the rare people who represent power in journalism, politics and business.
As an editor, he has been single-handedly taking on the might of the BJP and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. His Congress connections are well known. And now skeletons are tumbling out of the closet of how Tejpal appears to be primarily a businessman making tonnes of money as his properties and shares show.
When a powerful predator is caught in the net, it’s not surprising to have people watching and cheering the fall from grace. How many times has someone from the high elite Delhi cocktail circuit found himself in such a situation?
As they say: The higher they are, the harder they fall.
Social Media: Social media is nothing but a representation of the actual society that we live in and not something different. When the mood of the nation became anti-Congress, so did the mood of social media.
However, both the Congress and mainstream media (MSM) became adversarial and took on social media (SM). Cyberspace is a brutal place where SM beat MSM black and blue. Instead of accepting that, the focus became on fake accounts.
It has all proved to be counter-productive. And now walks in someone (Tejpal) who is accused of rape and he is seen as both part of the MSM and Congress establishment. At such times it becomes a boxing match and the punches will keep coming.
Mainstream Media: The MSM was in a dilemma on whether to go after Tejpal or not. After the uncertainty, the MSM decided to after him, led probably by the loudest and strongest anchor of them all in the form of Arnab Goswami.
Again, the MSM also sees everything in black and white. If they go after someone, then they really go after someone as poor Tejpal learnt to his shock.
The Anti-rape Agitation: The Delhi anti-rape agitation was the biggest agitation on women’s rights in the history of Independent India. That resulted in the Justice Verma recommendations and a change in rape laws.
And now here comes a test case. A powerful predator is on trial. Everyone has been agitating for years now and here comes a chance to make it successful and I don’t think the citizens of India are going to let that go.
For example, under the old laws it would have been very difficult to prove that this was rape and would have come under sexual harassment. Now there’s a chance that Tejpal may get a minimum of 10 years and that may serve as an example for all rapists in India.
The Hypocrites: If “rapist” has become an even more bad word after the anti-rape agitation and the world hates hypocrites too, then a hypocrite rapist will be doubly hated.
For years Tejpal has tried to present himself as a suave intellectual noble crusader with special emphasis on women’s rights and rape. And now that charade has been horribly shattered like thin glass.
The Apologists: Rarely has the whole nation been united on one issue. That’s why the small band of people who are defending him has been ridiculed and despised in a greater manner and added fuel to the fire.
The leader is Shoma Chaudhury. Had she either set up a committee immediately to look into the matter or gone to the police, the anger would have lessened. But nothing of the sort happened and people got even angrier.
The Underdog: Most rape victims keep quiet. Some who go to the police fail to get an FIR filed. Some fight it out in courts only to lose there. Some win in the lower courts and see defeat in the Supreme Court. Some win in the SC only to see a Presidential pardon!
Here is someone who could change all that.
Some words for the survivor here: She has shown admirable courage and has been taking things in a step by step manner. She first told her friends what had happened and then got an apology from Tejpal.
When Shoma didn’t set up a committee, she co-operated with the police. When Tejpal tried to politicize the issue, she immediately issued a statement.
For many, one way of showing solidarity with the survivor is to soundly attack the accused.
A combination of all these factors has led to Tejpal getting more coverage in the last week than even someone like even Modi!