Better late than never. So, after dithering for months, the Modi government at the Centre brushed aside BJP’s blue-eyed CM Yogi Adityanath’s sensitivities and let loose the CBI after felon Kuldeep Singh Sengar, accused of a litany of crimes. The strongman of Unnao and BJP MLA was detained in the morning and arrested at noon on Friday. The CBI lodged three FIRs against Sengar and they make grim reading for him: Kidnapping and inducing ‘woman’ for compelling her to marry; rape, threat and penetrative sexual assault against children under the POSCO Act; rioting and voluntarily causing harm; criminal intimidation and unlawful possession of arms.
If all goes according to law, Sengar’s goose is cooked and the other Rajput dabangg Raja Bhaiyya can connect the tissue and not ever lock horns with the ‘lowly’. The Yogi himself should take a cue and not act tough when clearly he isn’t. A tough CM wouldn’t have stuck to the dog-eared script. With his pusillanimity, Yogi has done harm to the strong man’s drink: Milk!
That said, the bottom-line is all politics. Rahul Gandhi midnight April 12-13 said women were no longer safe in India and that the midnight rendezvous for Congressmen and women at the Amar Jawan Jyoti was “not at all politics”. The Unknown Soldier at India Gate must have cringed: When was India ever safe for women? And if this was not politics, then what was Rahul Gandhi Congress president for?
Then again, is there a method to the BJP’s madness? Does it have something up its sleeve that the media has not caught on? Maybe, it is Vinashkale Vipreet Budhi! Whatever, after four years of kowtowing, the media is not taking sides and the opposition is emboldened. Taking advantage of the double-whammy the BJP was facing – in Unnao and Khatua – Priyanka Gandhi and Robert Vadra were also at the midnight rendezvous when Big Bro told media the “government must do something”. The SPG wouldn’t allow the Gandhis to stick around for too long at the spot. But the television media kept playing the spectacle in a loop till Kuldeep Singh Sengar was detained by CBI at 6.30 am Friday.
The BJP MLA has been living a notorious life, the strongman of Unnao with a pair of enforcers for brothers and ties with quite a few dabangg politicians of Uttar Pradesh. Yogi wouldn’t arrest him for the love of mic and that spoke volumes about the BJP’s priorities. If the party won over Muslim women with the triple-T bill, it risked losing Dalit women votes despite the ‘LPG’ and the bank accounts that won it 325 assembly seats in 2017.
The day politicians take propaganda and cant out of their statements/actions, people will genuflect before them for their honesty. Till then more salt and less small change in the pocket. Whether in Uttar Pradesh or in J&K. Karnataka or Madhya Pradesh. West Bengal or Maharashtra, netas are at the forefront in cover-ups of crimes against women.
Till Thursday evening there were no indications that Sengar would be taken into custody. The Allahabad High Court, which took suo moto notice of the crime forced Yogi’s and the Centre’s hand. But don’t be surprised if talk show host Arnab Goswami and Rahul Gandhi haven’t already claimed credit.
Goswami is the alter ego of Rahul Gandhi. He is forever wanting to interview Rahul Gandhi after the first one in 2014 made him numero uno in the TV news anchor stakes, ahead of erstwhile colleagues, Rajdeep Sardesai and Barkha Dutt. For the last three days, the “journalist” who launched Republic TV with money borrowed from a BJP MP, has been running a vociferous ‘Arrest Sengar Campaign’, challenging the BJP and claiming to be trolled by Hindu nationalists of the worst sort.
Two nights ago, Goswami suddenly realized there was another gruesome rape (and murder) that needed his urgent intervention, that of an eight-year-old in Jammu. But while he had the BJP in the crosshair in Uttar Pradesh, both the BJP and the Congress were at the receiving end of his tongue in Jammu. The self-acknowledged “most-opinionated” journalist looks like he wants to don secularism after wearing nationalism on his sleeve. Maybe the ‘independent journalist’ toga till 2019 throws a winner. Don’t forget, this is the chap who meowed in NDTV and roared on Times Now?
Talking of television media, when it comes to emotive issues – gruesome murders and horrific rapes of minors – the TV media hardly gives time to mainstream print media to make an impact. That said, the media is as much a villain for why the Unnao survivor and the Kathua victim failed to get justice for so long. Both incidents happened months ago, Unnao 11 months ago and Kathua three months ago – but the media relegated both crimes to inside columns of newspapers and to the rat-a-tat ‘100 quickies’ on television.
Politicians, who react only when the crap hits the fan, took cadence after the hungry for TRP TV media made a hue and cry after the likes of Goswami, Rahul Shivshankar and Nidhi Razdan looked like they had suddenly got it into their heads that they were journalists and not political hacks. So, Arnab Goswami, who launched Republic TV with the word ‘disruptor’, discovered he had a greater calling than just being a doormat at a political party’s headquarters. Now, with the certainty looming that the shoe might be in the other foot (that is mixing metaphors), more media are on a balanced foot.
That was not always so. Till as long as Modi had his halo intact and Amit Shah his election winning machine running smoothly, almost all media outlets stuck to tame government-friendly scripts. But when the by-election results and the Nirav Modi-Choksi heist partially evaporated the halo, all of a sudden the media got a whiff of the political wind changing. Smriti Irani’s botched attempts to regulate the media thereafter ricocheted, giving the impression that the government at the Centre was running scared, hiding behind belligerence, disabled by circumstances to do the right thing in UP or the correct thing in J&K. It was time for course correction. Better late than at the brink.