If you go by numbers, Kerala’s solar scam does not match up to most other scams from across the country. The estimates of loss due to the solar scam range between Rs 6 crore and Rs 12 crore reports the Indian Express. But when it comes to coverage, the time devoted to the solar scam has been unparalleled.
This is mainly because of the protagonists- Saritha Nair and Biju Radhakrishnan - who were first arrested in 2013.
From allegations of sexual favours to numerous illicit relationships and even circulation of private videos, Saritha Nair and her ilk have kept the Kerala media busy.
So what do politicians across the spectrum think of the non-stop coverage? Is it about news or is it voyeurism?
Advocate Bindu Krishna, Mahila Congress President of Kerala
"I am really sad that instead of alienating a financial fraud we have made her a heroine. Media played a big role in marketing her ill-fame. She was also well planned and she knew how to market her and one can understand that by looking at how she has honed herself. Somehow knowingly or unknowingly, media also fell for her marketing techniques. It was her plan to create a sensation around herself and she was successful in that. Things have come to such a state that if someone wants to abuse a woman, they say ‘she is like Saritha’. It is a shame. Media is necessary in society, but they should be more responsible."
MA Baby, CPI (M) Polit Bureau member
"Recent allegations by Saritha Nair have to be taken seriously and should get media attention. Till now she had been protecting some people by hiding facts. She has opened up after realizing that she was being exploited. There are few evidences too to support her claims.
But it is also a fact that media had used Saritha by giving importance to unnecessary things related to her. There were reports about her personal life, the clothes she wore etc. Certain news items about her appeared only because she was a young woman. That should not be done.”
VT Balram, Congress MLA
“Through this incessant media coverage given to Saritha, media is underestimating the people of Kerala. They think that people here would love to watch all these soft issues. As elections are nearing what we should is to analyze the positives and negatives of each party, but here they are trying to act as if only this single issue has happened in the last 5 years. Media might have temporary gains through it but it will not create a long term effect. I strongly feel that our media should be more responsible."
EP Jayarajan, CPI(M) MLA
"It is like an earthquake like never before in Kerala. A Chief Minister and many ministers have been accused of not just taking wrong decisions or being corrupt, they also being accused of having wrong kind of relationships. People watching this from outside Kerala may not understand the intricacies, but for us this continuous coverage is helping to expose politics that is decomposing."
VV Rajesh, BJP State Secretary.
“Dedicating 24 hours coverage to Saritha Nair related issues are not a healthy media culture. There are many constructive things happening around. But we cannot blame the media completely, as with their appropriate interference many scams have come out. All this should be reported, but there needs to be a limit too. Saritha Nair has been given prominence as she is a woman and her personal life involved in it. That does not create a healthy environment."
VD Satheesan, Congress MLA
"Saritha's case is not a big financial fraud, but still it gets so much attention because of two reasons- allegations against Chief Minster's office and the sexual allegations in the case. Both are ‘news’. With election nearing, the prominence for such news increases. People love to read and listen to this kind of news.”
MB Rajesh, CPI (M) MP
"Media tries to concentrate more on Saritha's sexual allegations than considering it as a financial fraud case. This reflects a problem with society’s mentality as people have special interest in these issues. But the financial corruption should not be undermined by these ‘masala’ stories. Consider her as a woman entrepreneur who was exploited by many she trusted. Now she has lost her money and pride. She had not alleged anything against the Congress till now, but now she was forced to. So media should consider that rather than focusing on the masala bits.”