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‘Please do a scripted conversation with a journalist for max impact’: Shruti Kapila, ThePrint columnist who will interview Rahul Gandhi at Cambridge

Besides being a full-fledged Congress apologist, ThePrint columnist has a history of amping up inflammatory rhetorics about India turning into a 'religious State' under the leadership of PM Modi, and undermining the BJP government at the Centre.

On Thursday (May 19), ThePrint columnist Shruti Kapila took to Twitter to inform that she will be interviewing Congress scion Rahul Gandhi on May 23, 2022.

The event titled ‘India at 75’ is set to be held at the McCrum Lecture Theatre in Corpus Christi College of the University of Cambridge. In a tweet, she wrote, “Very much looking forward to my conversation with Rahul Gandhi on Monday! On India at 75.”

As per her profile, Shruti Kapila is the Associate Professor of Indian History and Global Political Thought Fellow at the University of Cambridge. She is also the author of the book, ‘Violent Fraternity: Indian Political Thought in the Global Age.’

While the political opponents of Rahul Gandhi have labelled his upcoming interview as an ‘image building exercise’ on an international platform, the choice of Shruti Kapila as the interviewer makes for an interesting case.

Not until long ago, she was seen suggesting that the Congress scion should only hold ‘scripted interviews’ for high impact messaging. In a tweet in April 2020, ThePrint columnist had lamented how supposedly ‘excellent ideas’ were ruined by an impromptu presser of Rahul Gandhi.

While sharing an article by The Economic Times, Kapila wrote, “Watched live the v g intervention by Rahul Gandhi. Excellent ideas RUINED by Congress media unsavviness. IMHO, please do a scripted convo with a journo or another leader for MAXIMUM IMPACT. And pressers not same as high impact messaging!”

Screengrab of the tweet by Shruti Kapila

As such, it cannot be claimed with certainty that the upcoming interview with Rahul Gandhi will not be ‘fixed in advance.’ While a scripted interview will essentially make the task easier for the Congress leader, the choice of Shruti Kapila as the interviewer is not a matter of coincidence. She is, after all, one of their own.

Shruti Kapila is a seasoned Congress apologist

ThePrint columnist was earlier spotted sharing the stage with Congress leader Shashi Tharoor during the launch of his book ‘Inglorious Empires. “A total triumph Shashi Tharoor. Thanks for the book”, she tweeted in March 2017. The latter was seen thanking her in a tweet for the ‘amazing reception’ at Cambridge University.

Screengrab of the tweet by Shruti Kapila

While the electoral performance of the Congress party has been dismal in the past 8 years, loyalists of the party have often tended to intellectualize political catastrophes in the hopes of remaining in the good books of the Gandhi dynasty.

One such attempt was made by Shruti Kapila in an article in ThePrint in June last year. She suggested that the defection of Congress stalwarts to the saffron fold, which further weakened the party, was supposedly a ‘good thing’. The columnist went on to claim that splits in Congress had the potential to weaken the BJP instead.

“The ability to decide, then prosecute that decision to split, even at the cost of a dilution of some numbers in Parliament or legislatures, will alone guarantee the remaking of the Congress and any possible return to power,” the article claimed.

Screengrab of the article by Shruti Kapila

Besides providing intellectual cover fire, Shruti Kapila had been at the forefront of defending the Congress party from political criticism. Following the victory of the BJP in the 2019 General Elections, ‘activist’ Yogendra Yadav had called for the extermination of the grand-old party.

“The Congress must die,” Yadav had said in May 2019. Unable to bear the scathing criticism, Shruti Kapila had asked the Congress party to ignore him. “In my experience, Yogendra Yadav has always been anti-Congress. So why act so surprised? INC should ignore him,” she appealed.

Screengrab of the response by Shruti Kapila

In December 2019, ThePrint columnist had defended the Congress from accusations of being responsible for the Partition of India.

She had said, “Completely disagree. 1937 was a matter of principle: religion versa non-religion. Why should the League be given concessions when Muslims voted en masse for INC in 1937. Fed up of revisionism that continues to give a free pass to the ML (Muslim League) and Jinnah.”

Peddling hysteria, and casting aspersions on the ‘idea of India’

Besides being a full-fledged Congress apologist, The Print columnist was seen casting aspersions about India turning into a ‘religious State’ under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Following the victory of the BJP in the Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha polls of 2017, she claimed, “Will India’s constitution change? Or eroded as the country goes Hindutva”

Screengrab of the tweet by Shruti Kapila

While responding to one Uday Chandra in August 2020, she questioned whether the Bhoomi Pujan in Ayodhya and the associated Ram Janmabhoomi verdict was an instance of ‘land encroachment’ or ‘announcement of Hindu State.’

Screengrab of the tweet by Shruti Kapila

“The annihilation of India’s political opposition is almost complete. Narendra Modi’s ruling party has captured national politics for the foreseeable future,” Shruti Kapila tried to portray the Indian Prime Minister as the villain for the dismal electoral performance of the Opposition.

In an article published by The Print, Shruti Kapila claimed that the ‘mercy plea debate’, which if often raked up by the Opposition Congress, was in fact a ploy of the BJP to project Veer Savarkar as the ‘Father of New India.’

“If Gandhi was the face, name and supreme agent of free India, Savarkar is the unacknowledged ‘father of New India’. Whether through public history, commemorations in portraits and statues especially in government and public buildings or in controversies regarding the past, these are all but mechanisms to instal Savarkar,” the article read.

Screengrab of the article by Shruti Kapila in The Print

Besides peddling hysteria among the masses about a possible ‘change in the secular fabric of the Indian Constitution,’ her work remained largely fixated on equating Hindutva with extremism.

One of the quotes on Hindutva by Shruti Kapila, which is popular among Congress stooges, goes as, “Hindutva is a theory of violence in search of a history.”

In an article in Financial Times, Shruti Kapila claimed, “India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, spoke of the ‘idea of India. This grand vision was of a nation based on diversity…”

She then went on to say, “That history is now being rewritten by Mr Modi and his supporters as a revenge saga. To avenge the crimes of partition is to assert a Hindu state.”

Screengrab of the article by Shruti Kapila in Financial Times

Conclusion

The outlandish claims by The Print columnist about a ‘changing India’ and ‘rising Hindu nationalism’ make her camaraderie with the Congress party pretty evident. Given that both thrive on weaponising fear among the masses, Shruti Kapila makes the perfect fit as an interviewer for Rahul Gandhi.

The constant targeting of the Indian State on global platforms, and downplaying of criticism directed at the grand old party has earned her accolades from the Congress loyalists.

Thus, her recommendation to Rahul Gandhi to use ‘scripted interviews’ as a political messaging tool was not influenced by the Congress leader’s limited oratory skills but a clear understanding of what might turn around the fortunes of the grand old party.

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Dibakar Dutta
Dibakar Dutta
Fascinated by Indian politics

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