Seasoned journalist Barkha Dutt in her recent conversation with Congress media panelist Shama Mohammad expressed her anger and anguish over the fact that the mainstream media can no longer influence the voters in elections.
Where @DrShamaMohd of Congress asks @_YogendraYadav why he advocated NOTA, didnt field candidates & now wants Congress to “die.” She also draws a contentious distinction between voters of North being less educated, more vulnerable to fake news, than the South. Excerpt @newsHtn pic.twitter.com/eZVKnyfFKG
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) May 21, 2019
While interacting with Mohammad and former AAP leader Yogendra Yadav on Congress leader Kapil Sibal backed HTN Tiranga TV, Dutt said that the media is heading to become absolutely irrelevant in terms of being able to influence the outcome of elections. “I think politicians of all hues have developed their own mechanisms for engaging with the media. I promise you it doesn’t make me happy as a journalist to say this. But I believe the mainstream media is heading to absolute irrelevance in being able to influence how a voter votes in this country today,” she said. “I literally believe that,” she reiterated.
Other than ‘influence over voters’, journalists have also been accused of having influenced and lobbied for politicians.
In July 2009, leaked audio tapes, popularly known as ‘Radia tapes’ acquainted us with how the narrative is set, Cabinet berths negotiated, the disgraceful nexus between journalists and politicians and the political impunity to brush aside the scam. According to the conversation transcripts between Barkha Dutt and Niira Radia, Radia was lobbying against the reappointment of Dayanidhi Maran to the post of Union IT and Communications minister and Barkha was actively mediating between the two parties to somehow end the stalemate and form a government at the centre.
The panel was discussing whether the exit polls, which have been predicting a landslide victory for Narendra Modi, are correct and is he set for a record win. Barkha was being critical of Congress and referred to the exit polls as an ‘existential crisis’ for the party if the numbers are proven right. Barkha was talking down Congress panelist Shama Mohammad that Congress may just fare pretty badly when it comes to the three states (Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh) it recently won state elections in.
Mohammad, while trying to defend the Congress, said that up until 2014, there was no ‘pliable media’ except “Barkha and few others”. She adds, “The opposition, we were questioned. We were questioned for policy paralysis. We were questioned against the corruption allegations. We were questioned for Nirbhaya. We had a Kathua which was almost equal to Nirbhaya. Did anybody question other than a few people? He (Modi) did not even say a word against it. We were asked why was Manmohan Singh quiet? Why was Sheila Dikshit quiet? Mrs Gandhi received Nirbhaya at the airport. What was done for Kathua?”
The Congress panelist seems to have forgotten that in 2014, the Congress was the ruling party and not the opposition. Hence, the questions on policy paralysis and corruption allegations were not on the ‘opposition’ but actually to the party in power. She then goes on to politicise brutal rape cases and even compare the two.
Shama Mohammad then proceeds to declare that the reason behind the Congress’ bad performance in North Indian states is that the people in North Indian states are ‘pliable’ and they are not as educated like the people in the south.
With less than 24 hours to go before the counting for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections begin, desperate times are calling for desperate measures. While exit polls have predicted a second term for Modi government, we can only wait and watch as the actual results are declared tomorrow.