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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 13 New Delhi March 14, 2020

Two Letters | Amba Charan Vashishth

Sunday 15 March 2020

I read with interest veteran journalist Barun Das Gupta’s article “BJP Is Not India” in your esteemed weekly Mainstream (December 7, 2019). I agree with the writer that “BJP is not India” in the same manner as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, his daughter Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were not.

But I wonder how Gupta’s sweeping statement “As the BJP has nothing positive to show in its five year rule” escaped your discerning editorial eye. I don’t think it necessary to comment on it. You yourself can judge how fair and objective it is and how far such frivolous writings do credit to your magazine.

But I do think it necessary to apprise what the leaders of India’s oldest party and main Opposition have said recently. Former Union Minister and a senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had said: Modi’s governance model was “not a complete negative story” adding that “not recognising his work and demonising his work all the time was not going to help”. Backing Jairam Ramesh Congress party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the Prime Minister’s actions must be judged issue-wise and not person-wise. “Always said demonising Modi wrong. Not only is he PM of nation, a one way opposition actually helps him”. Other senior Congress leaders like former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor, party spokesperson Sharmishtha Mukherjee, Haryana former CM Hooda, former Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia also aired similar views.

Gupta deliberately seems to have ignored the fact or he is ignorant that no PM had been abused with such highly derogatory words like chor (thief), maut ka saudagar, napunsak, and so on as has been PM Modi. Has anyone been hanged for it? If not, how can one say that there is an “atmosphere of fear” and that people were “afraid to criticise the government”?

The veteran journalist further says that “Congress leaders are being systematically hounded, arrested and put in prison,...” He quotes the names of former Finance and Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Karnataka Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar giving the impression as if they were detained and arrested for fun. He deliberately fails to state that they were arrested for what criminal charges. It was the High Court and the Supreme Court and not the PM and BJP leaders who did it. His bail applications were rejected by courts and not by the government. The courts must have found some prima facie case against them that the courts earlier denied bail to them.

I hope you will respect my democratic right to freedom of thought and expression guaranteed in the constitution. I am sure you will not kill my freedom to dissent. It will provide your readers the other side of the story.

With thanks and regards,

Yours sincerely,

December 18, 2019 Amba Charan Vashishth

o o o

I recall with gratitude that you were kind enough to publish my article “It is no treason, Mr Sachar” as a counter to the late Rajinder Sachar’s article “It is treason, Mr Prime Minister”.

About two months back, I wrote a letter highlighting some grave factual errors in the article : “BJP is not India”. But I am sorry to say that you did not honour my right to opinion and present the other view. Moreover, I thought you have learned from your illustrious father that factual mistakes made by any writer should be corrected.

Still I cannot help point out another mistake, an exaggeration and this also constitutes a poor editorial acumen in your weekly’s issue dated February 29, 2020. These three instances are as under:

1. The editorial that appeared in The Wire (February 26) you published in lieu of your editorial headlined “The BJP Has Wilfully Let Delhi Burn”. In the last line of paragraph 3 from below it states: “Rather than take a proactive stance, the AAP chose to retreat into the shadows while Delhi was burning”.

2. Again, in the next article “That was the Decade that was!” by the senior journalist and writer L. K. Sharma, in the second sentence in the beginning of the article, Sharma writes, “The national Capital burnt with communal violence.....”

3. In another article “.....Mukt Bharat”, the former Congress Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha member Sardar Ajmad Ali in the first line of his article says, “....the Congress under the leadership of the young President Rahul Gandhi with the guidance and inspiration of Smt. Sonia Gandhi is fighting.......”.

In all the articles the emphasis has been laid by me.

Taking up the two articles first, the eminent writers have made a portion of the north-east Delhi the whole of Delhi and the “national Capital”. I don’t understand how this area which does not constitute even the whole of a single Assembly constituency out of the 70 Assembly constituencies or a single parliamentary constituency of the seven Delhi has, can be taken to mean as the whole Delhi. It is just an exaggeration the writers have tried to make their points and writings sensational.

I am reminded of an incident at the conclusion of Gujarat Assembly elections in the last quarter of 2002 after the 2002 Gujarat riots in the first quarter of the same year, Rajdeep Sardesai then working for NDTV in a live interview asked the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narender Modi to explain why he (meaning BJP) got more votes in the areas affected by riots and less which were free from riots. Shri Modi immediately shot back: Mr. Sardesai you first apologise to your viewers before I reply. After riots when we continued to stress that riots did not take place in the whole of the State but only a part of it, you were not listening to us and continued to say and write: “Gujarat is burning”, “Gujarat on fire” and so on.

And this, again, is the mistake some sections of media, Mainstream included, are repeating.

The veteran Congress ex-MP Sardar Ajmad Ali may have his own axe to grind to continue to call Rahul Gandhi the party’s “young President” despite the fact that he resigned more than six months back and the President is his mother Smt. Sonia Gandhi. But this mistake should not have escaped the prying eyes and scrutiny of your editorial team.

I hope as a great champion of the freedom of opinion and the right to express it you will honour my right to correct the mistakes your writers have committed and made a wrong statement of facts. This has led to mislead your esteemed readers.

With thanks and regards,

March 06, 2020 Amba Charan Vashishth

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