The manifesto of the Congress party reflects its radical transition towards the far Left. It is a minefield of bad ideas that could have an extremely disastrous impact on the country if they were ever implemented. While the promise to amend AFSPA garnered the most attention, the manifesto had other horrible ideas such as the return of Communal Violence Bill 2.0 and Section 66A.
Apart from these, the Congress party has hinted towards another move which further reveals its totalitarian inclinations. In its manifesto, in a very subtle manner, it has made it clear that it tends to enforce a crackdown on media should it win the elections this year.
The party manifesto states on page 37 that they intend to formulate a ‘Code of Conduct’ for the media. It says, “We will work with the Press Council of India and associations of newspapers and media to formulate and enforce a Code of Conduct on reporting in situations of natural disaster, communal conflict, riots, terrorist attacks and war in order to ensure a balance between the need to inform, need for restraint, maintenance of law and order, and interest of national security.”
These are of course very vague terms and the establishment can very well twist it to mean whatever it wants them to mean. The malicious intent is revealed in a separate point where the party states, “In recent times, sections of the media have abused or surrendered their freedom.”
What does Congress mean by that? If it believes that a certain media house violates any law, then it should have considered approaching the courts for justice. If no laws were broken, what actions of the media could be construed as ‘abusing’ or ‘surrendering’ their freedom?
The proposal for a ‘Code of Conduct’ for the media reeks of Communist totalitarian tactics. It is the proverbial hammer through which the Congress seeks to bend dissenters to its will. It can be very well used to enforce a complete blackout of communal violence, it could be very well used to force the media to peddle the government propaganda without asking any questions. Worst of all, the proposed ‘Code of Conduct’ could be used by the Congress party to intimidate the media into propagating its political agenda such as the ‘Hindu Terror’ myth once again. If any media house asks any questions, then the Congress could easily accuse them of endangering national security or some such obscure clause.
No one will be allowed to expose the numerous lies that the Congress President speaks on the Rafale Deal as it is a matter pertaining to national security. The Congress’ potential ally Mamata Banerjee will be further empowered to vehemently deny anti-Hindu riots in her state and enforce a crackdown on media houses which expose her lies. In short, the Congress party and their allies will be perfect liberty to adopt all means necessary to maintain their stranglehold over politics.
The mainstream media has, overwhelmingly, always favoured the Congress party. It’s only during Narendra Modi’s tenure as Prime Minister that we have witnessed the emergence of a host of neutral media houses. Congress has gotten so accustomed to having its way with the mainstream media that even neutrality appears as partisanship to them.
It’s consistent with how liberals and the Far Left perceive the world. In their perception of the world, any disagreement with them could never be motivated by a difference of opinion, it is always motivated by racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, patriarchy and other such things. They are unable to comprehend that people may have different premises for their arguments, which may not necessarily be consistent with theirs.
Quite similarly, the Congress party and its supporters believe as long as the media parrots their talking points, agree to whatever they say and do not ask too many questions, they are independent. Should any journalist dare to disagree, then he or she is a political stooge. As long as journalists engage in quid pro quo with them or they are coerced or intimidated into toeing the party line, they are independent. “Freedom is Slavery!” Orwell would have been proud.
The Congress party, of course, has a history of curtailing the independence of the media. It’s the party of The Emergency after all. And although Rahul Gandhi doesn’t have an ounce of the political acumen of his late grandmother, he does seem to have acquired her taste for complete servitude of the mainstream media.
The ‘Code of Conduct’ for the media should be considered in light of the Congress’ promise to crack down on ‘fake news’ and ‘hate speech’ on social media. All these proposals are geared towards achieving a very particular objective: Complete Control over Narratives. For decades after Independence, the party enjoyed exactly such a monopoly which was broken by the advent of social media initially and then was cemented by various media houses which adopted a neutral stance on issues. Rahul Gandhi, like his late grandmother, does not appear to have the tolerance for it. Therefore, attempts will be made to curtail their freedom.
It’s interesting that very few people in mainstream media have raised a hue and cry over it. And the ones raising their voice are those we can expect due to the neutral stance on politics they have maintained in recent years. It appears others don’t care if the Congress’ ‘Code of Conduct’ is enforced. Perhaps, it’s because they are already adhering to it, they always have.
The Congress manifesto makes it abundantly clear that its real intentions is to create a Stalinist regime where its power is unchallenged by dissent. For all its commitment to ‘dissent’, it makes it clear that only when narratives favour the Congress can it be called ‘dissent’. If words hurt its political prospects, then it’s ‘abusing’ or ‘surrendering’ freedom of expression which must be curtailed.