Nearly a week after CBI officials arrested two TMC ministers and a former TMC leader in connection with the Narada sting operation case, the “liberal-secular” publications are attempting to tone down the allegations against the accused by indulging the act of false glorification.
In a similar attempt, Hindustan Times on Thursday misled its readers by drawing false comparisons between the accused two TMC ministers and a former TMC leader with one of India’s greatest freedom fighters – Subash Chandra Bose. Last week, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had arrested two TMC heavyweights – Subrata Mukherjee and Firhad Hakim, and a former Trinamool leader Sovan Chatterjee in connection with the Narada sting operation case.
In a report titled, “Arrest of 3 ex-mayors by CBI puts Kolkata in unique list; citizens recall Netaji”, Hindustan Times reported that the arrest of three former mayors by CBI has put Kolkata in a unique situation and claimed that the citizens of Kolkata recalled Netaji following their arrest.
Through its catchy headline, HT tries to draw an equivalence between Netaji Subash Chandra Bose and the three accused in the Narada sting case. In its headline, HT claims that the citizens of Kolkata recalled Netaji Subash Bose after the arrest of the three accused. Though there is no reference to any such direct comparison, Hindustan Times subtly draws an equivalence between Netaji and the arrested accused by resorting to wordplay.
As one reads the report in detail, there is no reference to any such statements made by ordinary citizens of Kolkata. However, Hindustan Times passes two statements made by two people, one an academist and another a Communist leader, to suggest that the ‘citizens’ recalled Netaji after the arrest of three former mayors.
The article speaks on how the arrest of serving or former mayors is not new in India or other countries, however, Kolkata has a unique history for the wrong reasons as no other city in the nation has witnessed the arrest of three former mayors on the same charge.
HT quotes academician, Communist leader, but no reference to citizen recalling Netaji
Further, the report says that some iconic figures such as freedom fighter Chittaranjan Das and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had served as mayors of Kolkata just like the three accused. HT also quotes Shouvik Mukhopadhyay, a Professor from Calcutta University, according to whom the arrest of mayors, be it in Brazil’s Sao Paulo or some of the east European cities, was related to corruption that crept due to “capitalism replacing socialism”.
“In Kolkata, most of the former mayors were part of the freedom movement. I cannot draw a comparison between them and today’s leaders. Subhas Bose, too, was arrested when he was a mayor but it was because he led a political movement demanding the removal of the Holwell monument. He was injured in baton charge,” HT quotes Shouvik Mukhopadhyay.
It is worth mentioning that Subrata Mukherjee had served as Kolkata’s mayor between 2000 and 2005. Sovan Chatterjee took oath as Kolkata’s mayor in 2010 and resigned in 2018. He was succeeded by Mamata Banerjee’s blue-eyed Muslim leader – Firhad Hakim who served as mayor of Kolkata till last year.
Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, who is a former Advocate General of Tripura and a currently Rajya Sabha member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) is also featured in the article. As per Bhattacharya, the arrest of three former mayors is unique as well as unfortunate. He said the arrest was shameful for Kolkata as that chair holds a special position in history.
“People like Bose, Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy (first chief minister of Independent Bengal), freedom fighter Jatindra Mohan Sengupta, educationist Triguna Sen were among many luminaries who served as mayor. Mamata Banerjee has blended corruption with politics. The case would not have started had we not moved court,” said Bhattacharya.
HT draws false equivalence between Netaji and Narada accused
Apart from these two above references, there is no record of any ordinary citizen reminding or comparing the arrest of the three former mayors to the arrest of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose. Interestingly, one of the two people quoted by HT categorically rejects such false comparison, while the other recalls Netaji by indirect reference to the mayor’s chair. However, HT subtly tries to use their statements to create a false equivalence between the arrested and Subash Chandra Bose.
The entire basis of such false equivalence by HT is drawn from the fact that Subash Chandra Bose had also served as the mayor of Kolkata in 1930, who was later arrested by the British Empire for actively participating in the freedom struggle. Hindustan Times reference to Subash Chandra Bose in its report is nothing but a clever act to equate the arrest of three former mayors with the arrest of Bose.
In doing so, the Hindustan Times not only puts out misinformation by imagining equivalence between the arrested individuals and Netaji Bose but also tries to glorify the three accused leaders. In a hurry to paint a rosy image of the TMC leaders, HT ended up disrespecting Subash Chandra Bose by comparing him with accused.