All these well-meaning luminaries may be making a grave error of judgment
The Press Conference at the Press Club, Delhi on 9th June raises issues of grave concern; particularly since eminent people like Fali Nariman, Kuldip Nayar and Arun Shourie believe the Government is trying to curtail freedom of the press. It is necessary to analyse their views objectively and draw our own inferences.
Modi had retained many of the key bureaucrats and officers in investigation agencies, the grapevine was that wrong-doers of the previous era were being allowed to go scot-fre
Fali Nariman, Jurist:
“On 2nd of June, a FIR is lodged by the CBI – 7 years after the event.”
CBI was described as a caged parrot by the SC during the UPA regime. After NDA came to power, if anything, Modi Government has been accused of not going after the corrupt ministers and bureaucrats of the previous regime.
Incidentally, Modi had said in an interview that after NDA came to power, he had left law to take its own course on matters against his predecessors, but he had never opened a file against anyone, nor initiated any action. Since Modi had retained many of the key bureaucrats and officers in investigation agencies, the grapevine was that wrong-doers of the previous era were being allowed to go scot-free.
Recently, in the natural course of events, changes happened in the CBI top brass, and the new officers are acting against some of the bigwigs, something his predecessors had failed to do. There is no evidence to suggest that any pressure was brought on CBI to act against anybody. All this explains the 7-year delay for the FIR against Prannoy Roy. Should the Government interfere and stop investigations on all past wrong-doings since the previous CBI officials were silent all along?
“The first thing CBI is expected to do, once such a complaint is filed, is seeking NDTV’s response. But that wasn’t done.”
This is a fair point, which CBI will be required to answer in the CBI court, soon.
“On June 1, in an NDTV show, Sambit Patra said: I interrupt people only on NDTV, and I need to do that because NDTV has an agenda. Then the offices and residences of Prannoy Roy were raided.”
This is also a point, which CBI will be required to answer to the CBI court, soon.
Kuldip Nayar, Senior Journalist:
“During the Emergency, nobody had to tell anybody what to do. Everybody knew what to do. Today, when we are facing more or less the same situation – not that extent – all of us have to ensure we don’t allow anybody to muzzle free speech.”
Fair point, except that someone has to still prove that the cases against Prannoy Roy, et al are an attempt to muzzle free speech.
Arun Shourie, Former Minister and Senior Journalist:
“They are using an instrument of overt pressure. They have made NDTV an example of that. This will intensify in the coming months because of the nature of the regime – its genes are totalitarian.”
All these are sweeping allegations. Does he mean Modi is concentrating all powers with himself? Leadership style may vary from person to person; each style has its advantages and disadvantages. Collective decision making, GOMs and EGOMs are NOT the only way, nor necessarily the best way to govern. People want decisive leadership and they believe they get it from Modi.
In terms of expertise & experience in governance and people’s confidence, Modi is not just above everyone else in the Government, but also above everyone else across political parties. He’s the one answerable to the people, anyway. Being the PM, he could be consulted on all key decisions across ministries. And there’s no evidence to the allegation that the Government is exerting overt/ covert pressure on anyone on the NDTV case.
“The CBI has not been able to answer the facts put out by NDTV. There is even an article on The Wire. The facts are irrefutable.”
CBI can only defend its position before the court. One Ms Rohini has answered all the points and counters raised in the Wire article, under Comments, by the way.
If Prannoy Roy wants to educate the public and defend himself fully, it will be a good idea for him to refute all the allegations in the book, “NDTV Frauds”, point by point, with a book, “NDTV Is Clean”.
“You must help your friend because they will try to divide. Do not become instruments.”
I think Arun Shourie should separate the two issues viz., freedom of the press and defending a friend. Supporting a friend charged with a criminal act is not exactly the same as defending the freedom of the press. Let those friends who are fully convinced that Prannoy Roy is innocent and is being falsely targeted support him in the name of freedom of the press.
“It is very sad we have not reacted the way we should to the choking of the RTI.”
I agree that the Government appears not to be responding adequately well in respect of RTIs, its reservations notwithstanding. But that has nothing to do with this case.
“Narendra Modi has a whole team in his office… to keep a watch on social media. That is his weakness.”
This means Modi has his feet to the ground. Good for him; good for India. Any effort at mounting a social media attack on the Government will only make the Government more responsible and accountable. I welcome this.
“During the Defamation Bill struggle, we effectively used boycott as a useful approach against Rajiv Gandhi’s ministers.”
Is Arun Shourie saying that a similar boycott should be done to stop the CBI case against Prannoy Roy? What a dangerous suggestion? Then Lallu, Mamta, Mulayam, Mayawati and others who have CBI cases against them will want similar support; will Arun Shourie extend? If not, how is the case of Prannoy Roy different?
“Redouble the work that is annoying the government. We have only three protections: our solidarity, the court, the protection of our own readers and viewers.”
A lot of people are already trying to annoy the government, but the more they annoy, the more people are supporting Modi. Modi will face the solidarity of the media (the section that supports Prannoy Roy) and the courts; people are anyway solidly with Modi. Arun Shourie seems to believe that the more they target Modi, the more are the chances that he will make errors, become undemocratic and impose emergency, and Prannoy Roy’s friends can do to Modi what the country did to Indira Gandhi after an emergency. Modi is unlikely to oblige. Modi is not the Hitler they believe he is.
So, in sum, all these well-meaning luminaries may be making a grave error of judgment. Prannoy Roy may not be innocent, and Modi may not be the demon they are making him out to be. They should read the book ‘NDTV Frauds’ thoroughly with open minds before they blindly support Prannoy Roy.
Why do these people hate Modi so much? Are Modi’s intentions wrong? No one has charged him thus, so far. Are his executions wrong? Assuming they are, does he deserve so strong an opposition? Are they opposed to the policies of the Government? If so, they should realise that it is precisely for these that people are voting for him across the country; they should tolerate him for now, but oppose him on policies, and hope he will be voted out in 2019.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.