In yet another development showing how journalism and politics are on occasions not differentiable from each other, politician Lalu Yadav and journalist Shekhar Gupta joined each other to claim casteism in corruption cases in wake of a CBI court finding Lalu guilty in one of the cases related to the infamous Fodder Scam of Bihar.
The caste card was interestingly played in advance by Gupta, whose article linking caste and corruption was shared on the social media even as people waited for the verdict in the fodder scam case. Gupta’s article tried to insinuate that politicians belonging to upper castes don’t get convicted in corruption cases and only the politicians belonging to the lower caste get convicted.
Ironically, Shekhar Gupta decided to peddle this theory at a time when A Raja, a Dalit, was acquitted in 2G scam and Ashok Chavan, a Maratha – an intermediary caste group that is demanding reservations in Maharashtra – was acquitted in the Adarsh Housing scam in the last two days.
The fact that Gupta was inventing theories out of nowhere was immediately called out by many, who pointed out that there were many ‘upper caste’ politicians who were convicted for corruption. Jayalalithaa, a Brahmin, being one of the latest cases:
Jayalalithaa, Sukhram, Jagannath Mishra, Rajasekhar Reddy, Ramakrishna Hegde, Chautala, Gundu Rao, Sheila Kaul, Narasimha Rao. Just a list of ‘upper caste’ leaders who were charged with corruption and some jailed too. https://t.co/MPeX4lPTfs
— Prasanna Viswanathan (@prasannavishy) December 23, 2017
Since facts and figures don’t matter to most journalists in India, Shekhar Gupta decided to ignore all such criticism. He peddled his half-baked theory with renewed vigor once the CBI court pronounced Lalu Yadav guilty. What make Gupta see victory was the fact that Jagannath Mishra, former Chief Minister of Bihar and a co-accused in the scam – but most importantly a Brahmin by caste for the likes of Gupta – was acquitted. This was enough for Gupta to indulge in chest-thumping:
Fodder case: Lalu convicted, Jagannath Mishra acquitted. Here we go again. Is there a caste differential of corruption? https://t.co/MAPK2nhkgK
— Shekhar Gupta (@ShekharGupta) December 23, 2017
This casteist line was immediately lapped up by Lalu’s party RJD, whose spokespersons repeated this and in veiled tone threatened ‘agitations’ in Bihar. Not just RJD spokespersons, even Lalu Yadav himself quoted Shekhar Gupta and played the caste card on Twitter:
Powerful people and powerful classes always managed to divide society into ruling and the ruled classes. And whenever anyone from the lower hierarchy challenged this unjust order, they would be deliberately punished https://t.co/oDSIg7e0ie
— Lalu Prasad Yadav (@laluprasadrjd) December 23, 2017
However, once again, Shekhar Gupta’s assertion about a Brahmin Jagannath Mishra being acquitted and a ‘lower caste’ Lalu Yadav being convicted was cherry picking of data, because there were people from lower castes too who were acquitted along with Mishra.
People on Twitter pointed out this fact to Gupta, but being a senior journalist, Gupta continued to ignore facts:
Plz don’t divide my country on the basis of caste. Nishad , Mandal etc who got acquitted today are from upper caste? Don’t mislead the country. https://t.co/PuM5uBGtb1
— Ishant Sharma (@CrimeMasterV2) December 23, 2017
As pointed out by a Twitter user Divya, Gupta had earlier tried to stoke communal tensions by twisting Taslima Nasrin’s words, and now he was playing with caste fire. Whether this is all being done to get clicks for his new website The Print, or for triggering unrest in the society is not known, but Gupta has given Lalu and supporters a reason to go on a rampage in the streets.
One just hopes that the politicians of India are more responsible than the journalists.