The changing political discourse in
India and its implications on the 2014 election is something
that’s hotly debated among certain section of the intelligentsia.
The new discourse came into limelight with the Anna Hazare
movement to bring in effective Lokpal Bill to check the menace of
corruption that has seeped into the body politics of the country.
Buoyed by the social media and the electronic media, particularly
the 24x7 news, the new political discourse took a flying start.
Many compared Anna Hazare with the pied-piper of Hamilton, who
will banish corruption from the country. The sheer number of
people, who came out on the streets to support Anna Hazare,
demonstrated that a new freedom struggle has begun in the country.
While there was a general consensus
on controlling corruption in high places, the demand for an extra
constitutional authority to adjudicate the governance was
unacceptable to the people. It’s this realization that dampened
the initial euphoria for Anna Hazare movement.
The movement further lost its sheen when it started dictating
terms from the streets, attacking the Prime Minister and his
cabinet colleagues leveling charges of corruption. The people, who
had firm faith in the system of governance started cold
shouldering those trying to bring systemic correction to the
political apparatus of the country.
Eventually, the fledgling Anna
Hazare movement fizzled out. The Gandhian unsure whether his
vision and mission could ever be achieved disassociated with his
team and withdrew from the centre stage. It seemed he was more
bothered to salvage his personal integrity rather than changing
the political discourse in the country.
However, from the debris of Anna
movement emerged, Arvind Kejrewal, another harbinger of social
change, who is currently holding the center stage in the country.
He is trying to hold aloft the flag that Anna unfurled to start a
new political discourse in the country.
Kejrewal, armed with documents, that he has acquired through RTI,
shot his first salvo at Robert Vadra, the son in law of AICC
president Sonia Gandhi. His next hunt was Union Law Minister
Salman Khrshid. He then trained his guns at the BJP president
Nitin Gadkari, accusing all of them being corrupt.
It is with such strident campaign
Kejrewal, announced his entry into the politics. He now aspires to
win majority and change the political discourse of the country.
Will he do all this? The verdict 2014 can only be its testimony.
In changing the political discourse
of the country, the media, particularly the 24x7 news channels are
supposedly playing a big role. However, the question remains how
far they are positively inclined?
Even as Assam burned with human
exodus reaching unimaginable numbers; the 24x7 media focused on
Anna’s fast in Delhi. The fast of Ramdev and Anna Hazare was much
more important to the media then the fast by Sami Nigmmananda, who
died trying to save river Ganga from pollution.
In order to change the political discourse in the country, the
trial by media has become the order of the day. The media is
performing the role of the courts, where people like Kejrewal rush
in front of the cameras and level charges against public figures.
His coverage assures huge eyeballs but at what cost needs to be
Instant, charges, instant prosecution, instance justice, have all
become the trade mark of the electronic media reportage these
days. The functioning of the electronic media is equated with the
Khap Panchayats because the similarities between them.
If Kejrewal is so convinced about his allegations, why he is not
going to the courts to seek justice, why he is rushing to the
media. Speculations are rife that there is some quid pro quo
arrangement between Kejrewal and the media, that’s giving him
Markandey Katju, former Supreme
Court judge and currently Chairman of the Press Council of India
has commented on this phenomenon. He writes; “This incident (Salman
Khurshid) is not just an isolated one, because often complaints
are made that in their hurry to give breaking news, the media,
specially the broadcast media, does not do proper investigation
before attacking someone’s reputation. For a self respecting man,
death is preferable to dishonor.”
In this context, two important developments have taken place. The
first is the defamation suit filed by Salman Khurshid against the
media outlet for damaging his reputation. The outcome of this case
is eagerly awaited because it will decide whether the free run
that the 24x7 media is enjoying now would continue or will it be
made accountable, as demanded by Markandey Katju.
The second is the defamation suite filed by Delhi Chief Minister
Shiela Dixit, against Arvind Kejrewal, for tarring her reputation
as a public figure.
The verdict of both the cases is eagerly awaited as they may have
a far reaching impact that may give direction to the future
political discourse in the country.
Muijtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at