George Orwell once said, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” It is precisely this liberty in the light of which recent remarks against Sonia Gandhi by Republic TV chief Arnab Goswami need to be evaluated. The outrage against his remarks, displayed by several Congress politicians and some journalists, stems largely from the obedience to the Gandhi family rather than from any care for maintaining decency or civility. The Congress politicians’ reflexive outrage, based on an age-old compulsive reverence for the Big Family, is not a barometer to judge the degree of ‘decency’ in remarks made by Arnab Goswami. Also, it is hardly surprising that the ‘senior’ journalists of Lutyens’ Delhi admonished him too.
There are two primary reasons for this admonishment. Firstly, Arnab Goswami in the capital’s Lutyens’ ecosystem, has always been considered as an ‘outsider’ journalist from the North-Eastern frontiers of the country. His stupendous rise over the years has only added to that admonishment. After all, it was his strong reputation, as a fearless journalist, that made him bag the all-important interviews of both Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi in the run-up to 2014 General Elections.
Secondly, as is well-known, the connection between the Big Family and the Lutyens’ establishment is akin to an umbilical cord that provides the latter with ‘essential supplies’ of money, access and familiarity – a trio that the establishment uses to manufacture credibility for itself. It uses this ‘credibility’ to present itself as an authority that decides whether something is truth or post-truth, pure or profane, brave or pliant journalism, freedom of expression or its condemnable misuse. Thus, right to freedom of speech and expression, similar to the application of principles of secularism, is a one-way street for the establishment, wherein the street leads to only acclamation and no arraignment of the Big Family. Anyone not following the norms of this one-way street is immediately booked.
Swapan Dasgupta, a Rajya Sabha MP, in reference to the Lutyens’ cabal, had stated in a debate at Jaipur Literature Festival 2017, “Some people (cabal members) who thought that they had a monopoly over truth and over wisdom found that the masses didn’t agree with them…These people are now confused …and want to say that they’re the repository of the entire truth and everything else is false consciousness.” In other words, for the Lutyens’ establishment, truth is what enters the one-way street while the rest is false consciousness. Thus, an FIR against an establishment journalist for spreading fake news about UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is called a ‘gag on press freedom’ while an alleged attack by alleged Congress party workers on another journalist for calling Ms.Gandhi by her Italian name is called ‘requisite and just retaliation’. So much for press freedom!
In the last six years, the subtle yet deep hypocrisy displayed time and again by the said cabal has been laid bare. An increasing number of people have dented its ‘credibility’ with fierce yet logical arguments and discussions, after uncovering the nexus that exists between the establishment’s multiple sub-groups of so-called activists-journalists and politicians. A quote, in this context, serves as the perfect reminder to the cabal members who claim to be the champions of fundamental or human rights – “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.” Interestingly, this quote comes from an American socialist-anarchist intellectual Noam Chomsky whose multiple comments on the bilateral Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan and ‘dangers of Hindu nationalism’ have been conveniently used, time and again, by the members of the establishment to criticize those who criticize the Big Family and its political decisions since the independence of the country.