Voices Friday, July 03, 2015 - 05:30
July 3 is the 20th day of what has been called the #LalitGate episode. But it is increasingly hard to distinguish who is stringing whom along? Is it the media who is exposing an alleged fugitive who is in cahoots with two powerful politicians? Or is it a case of one man stringing everyone along including the media, and revealing his cards as and when it suits him? As we look forward to another day and another episode of "l’Affaire Lalit", the channel (Times Now) who claimed to have first broken the story has attracted a legal notice courtesy Dushyant Singh, son of Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje. A lawsuit worth Rs 100 crore will find its way to the channel’s office if an apology is not tendered tonight and it is not the first time that the BCCL has come under fire either.  Aside from launching his own NGO, Modi, in his own grammar-free and emoticon-filled tweets has issued a clarion call to all journalists who couldn’t run their stories due to their bosses having “vested interested”. What Modi has done here, is become this alternate messiah cleaning out the country via social media. From faraway Europe, he’s conducting an opera-a-day on news channels. People on Twitter (if to be taken seriously) are likening him to Kejriwal (the bit where he vowed to clean up the country). And apart from this, he has landed quite the many blows on the media itself, levelling allegations against the editor of one of India’s largest selling dailies and several journalists too. Who knows what Modi comes out of this entire saga looking like? The media though, has seemed to have burned its fingers from day one. Rival news channels bickered on "who broke the story first" and then went on a run to Montenegro to grab the “exclusive”. Some didn’t even get the interview, with Sreenivasan Jain of NDTV left pretty bemused by Lalit Modi’s ways. The rest called for resignations, and the media looked like they wanted the first ‘scalp’ of the Narendra Modi government. And while the “media narrative” went one way, Modi took on all and sundry including ghosts from his past.  As the media pushed for resignations, Modi pushed more and more names into his giant churning cauldron. In a column for The Daily Mail, deputy editor at India Today TV Shiv Aroor wonderfully encapsulates the Modi-effect of the past 20 days. “All Indian politicians, journalists and millions of fans both online and offline probably check his Twitter feed before they even brush their teeth,” he writes. Another reason the circus has gone on as along as it has, is the names involved – Sushma Swaraj, and Vasundhara Raje. The media likes the big names and went after them. While the importance of the issues raised in this cross-continental war of words is hardly inconsequential, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s attitude towards the media is one that could be frightening. Summing up the government’s attitude to the entire episode on Thursday, he said the Modi episode was only relevant to “TV channels”. It seems that Modi will continue running the proverbial show for a few more weeks now, and the government, judiciary and executive will have their say, in their own time. In his recent tweets, Modi has said that media “create news” whereas he is “playing it out” with “suspense”. But guess who among the two has sooty hands right now? 
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