There is per se nothing wrong in the media and the intellectual community in India rejecting a political ideology or personality in a democratic system.
There have been two kinds of losers in the 2019 election: The visible and the invisible. The former are those who contested against the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance and were trounced. The second category comprises the ones who desperately wanted Modi to be cut to size. In their own ways, they actively contributed towards that goal. Like the active contestants, they too were left speechless after the massive mandate the people gave the Prime Minister and his alliance.
The first in this group is a bunch of media personnel who lost their privileges, access to the corridors of power and the leverage to brokerage deals. These journalists — going by the name of political analysts — after Modi stormed to office in 2014 — had been nursing their wounds and hoping for a return of the good old days when they were much sought-after by the Congress-helmed UPA, hopping on various free foreign jaunts and place in government-appointed panels. They appeared on television channels few watched and expounded on why the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party would face major reverses in 2019. Some of them wrote columns in the print media, expanding on their pet theories. But when they saw the writing on the wall, especially after the Exit Poll results, they began to reconcile to yet another five years in exile.
Call them the “Lutyens’ club”— a term which a section of the electronic media, seen to be supportive of Modi, has made popular. Or call them the upscale “Khan Market cabal”, coined and popularised by the Prime Minister
This group also consists of analysts and authors who wrote for foreign publications and let the readers there, far removed from the ground realities of India, believe that Modi had demolished the grand old Idea of India and turned the nation into a communal cauldron. One such analysis found its way as a cover story, titled “Divider-in-Chief’ in an international magazine, in the midst of election campaigning. Now that the result is known, the irony cannot be lost on the distinguished author of that piece. The so-called divider has actually electorally unified the country more than he did in 2014. The BJP has expanded its base in regions it had no presence earlier; it has won 50 per cent or more votes in major States, and it has improved upon its 2014 overall vote-share nationally. On the other hand, the Congress, the presumptive ‘unifier-in-chief’ for these ostrich-like media people, failed to open its account in more than a dozen States; could not cross the double-digit figure in any State except one; and surrendered bastions such as Amethi and Guna, to name just two.
The second in this ‘hope Modi-led BJP loses’ group are the so-called liberal academics and rights activists parading as objective commentators. Some straddle colleges and universities, others argue cases in higher courts as senior advocates, and there are those who have been sidelined as politicians in the last five years and have turned into intellectuals, pursuing matters in courts against the Modi regime. Perched on their lofty pedestals, they had envisioned, if not a drubbing at least an embarrassing setback, to the Prime Minister. They spoke and wrote copiously about how people had got disillusioned by Modi, his dictatorial ways, his unkept promises, and his divisive politics. The source and premise of their conclusions remain a secret to this day. Admittedly, at least a few of these have now publicly acknowledged Modi’s stupendous success, but their tone even in that admiration is laced with a bitterness which comes from an opportunity lost for these worthies to make some sort of a comeback.
There is per se nothing wrong in the media and the intellectual community in India rejecting a political ideology or personality in a democratic system. There are many instances of Western media groups openly endorsing a party or a candidate for the highest political position. The problem is the use of skullduggery in this country to demote the image of a leader, and the use of blatant falsehood to malign reputations. The vested interests groups who have been despatched to another term of exile, did not see anything wrong in the brazen minority appeasement which Mamata Banerjee indulged in; they refused to acknowledge the sheer opportunistic alliance between the Samajwadi Party and the BSP — two parties who had absolutely nothing in common except their desire to oust Modi (the BJP was at least candid enough to admit that it too had entered into a similar coalition with the PDP in Jammu and Kashmir, but had got out of it eventually) and that the partnership was openly based on caste politics.
Call them the “Lutyens’ club”— a term which a section of the electronic media, seen to be supportive of Modi, has made popular. Or call them the upscale “Khan Market cabal”, coined and popularised by the Prime Minister, which not only has media professionals but others similarly aligned in thought and hope. The phrases have become metaphors for a section of intellectuals that is far removed from ground realities and lives in a make-believe world of dated ideologies and rejected political constructs. But they are excellent networkers, if nothing else, and cannot be written off.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.