There are some recurring cycles in Indian politics. For example, every few days, Rahul Gandhi makes a fool of himself on a public platform. Every few months, the media relaunches Rahul Gandhi. Similarly, every few weeks, the media targets Smriti Irani. One either comes across write-ups that undermine her on the basis of her gender or her leanings, or one comes across simple hitjobs, articles which lie outrightly about her. Another such hitjob appeared recently, and seems to be targeting her for her stint as the Information and Broadcasting minister.
The article talks about how the new I&B minister, Rajyavardhan Rathore, is all set to attend his first meeting with the Prasar Bharti board. Prasar Bharti is India’s largest public broadcasting agency, which comprises of Doordarshan Television Network and All India Radio. The article states how crucial the meeting is, because the last one between the ministry and Prasar Bharti did not go well. It goes on to say that the last two board meeting were stormy because Prasar Bharti did not want to lose its autonomy, clearly hinting that the ministry under Smriti Irani wanted to do away with the agency’s autonomy.
This is patently false. Under Smriti Irani, the ministry had demanded transparency from Prasar Bharti. It had even flagged off a few anomalies and sent a few notices to the people in question regarding the same. Rumours about how the ministry was withholding funds began making the rounds, until the Prasar Bharti CEO was himself forced to come out and clarify that no such thing had happened. He had said, “(These) attempts to create panic (are) malafide.”
It was the mainstream media which had peddled these rumours. To cover up its initial lie that Smriti Irani was attempting to do away with the agency’s autonomy, it had since gone on a spree of lies. The biggest one came when Rajyavardhan Rathore replaced Smriti Irani as the I&B minister. A flurry of reports indicated that she had failed miserably as a minister, and one of the main reasons was that she had gone too far in her attempt to do away with Prasar Bharti’s autonomy.
The new minister Rajyavardhan Rathore’s stance regarding Prasar Bharti clearly exposes how fraudulent the mainstream media’s version of events was. Its interpretation as well as the conclusions it drew, were either bogus or planted deliberately. The mainstream media projected that Smriti Irani’s demands for transparency were attempts at doing away with the agency’s autonomy, and that this is what got her replaced. Considering Rajyavardhan Rathore has also demanded transparency from Prasar Bharti in no uncertain terms, the media’s lies now stand exposed. If Smriti Irani really lost her ministry for that purpose, why would Rathore walk into the exact same trap? Obviously the media used a routine cabinet reshuffle to target Smriti Irani and perpetuate its lie about her seeking to do away with Prasar Bharti’s autonomy.
Unable to convince anyone, it continues to perpetuate the same lies. On a day when Rajyavardhan Rathore is to meet the Prasar Bharti board, once again it peddles its asinine theory that Smriti Irani wanted to do away with the agency’s autonomy. The problem with the mainstream media is that it is lost in its own web of lies. It lies, and then lies again to cover up the first lie, and initiates a vicious, never-ending cycle of lies. It remains trapped in that web of lies, too scared to ever break free because it runs the risk of bringing everything it has passed off as gospel truth crashing down.
Smriti Irani is at the receiving end of these hitjobs for obvious reasons. The first reason is that the mainstream media is largely sold-out. Journalists are part of an ecosystem of politicians, intellectuals and other individuals who have sworn loyalty to one family and its welfare, and are ready to go to any length when it comes to praising or protecting the family. Smriti Irani struck right at the core of this ecosystem by contesting, and almost winning from the Amethi seat in the 2014 general elections. The chill she sent down the ecosystem’s spine is something it is not used to, and has therefore vowed to strike back with vengeance. The second reason of course is that her being in a position of power stands in contrast to everything the ecosystems stands for. She is a minister today purely on merit, not because of a family name, a fortune, or by playing the victim card on every step of the way.
And so, whether it was The Telegraph’s insulting headline, Tehseen Poonawalla’s misogynist joke, Sanjay Nirupam’s cheap remarks, lies about her stint as the education minister and as a Rajya Sabha member, and lies about her tenure at the I&B ministry, she remains unstoppable and unapologetic. This must be very frustrating for the ecosystem and its baby, the mainstream media.