The curious case of N.Ram, DMK and Jayalalitha

N.Ram, editor in chief of The Hindu, calling on Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalitha, in Madras, on Tuesday, 24 May 2011

ARVIND SWAMINATHAN writes from Madras: If a picture conveys a thousand words, the picture above should convey a couple of them, and then some more.

At left is N. Ram, the editor-in-chief of The Hindu, currently embroiled in a major row with his brothers N.Murali and N. Ravi (and their cousins Malini Parthasarathy, Nirmala Lakshman and Nalini Krishnan), over who should succeed him at the family-owned newspaper.

At right is Jayalalitha Jayaram, the newly elected chief minister of Tamil Nadu, whose AIADMK government in 2003, ordered the arrest of then editor N.Ravi and executive editor Malini Parthasarathy, chief of bureau V. Jayanth, and special correspondent Radha Venkatesan for alleged contempt of the legislative assembly.

Then freshly installed at the helm, Ram turned the arrest order into a cause celebre.

Meeting Jayalalitha today may appear to be an entirely appropriate courtesy call, one which most editors think they are entitled to in the call of duty.

But is it too early to forget that Jayalalitha came to power on the back of the 2G spectrum allocation scam which has the who’s who of the DMK involved in it, and on which N. Ram has been under a targetted attack from his brothers and cousins of, a) being an apologist for the main accused in the scam, A. Raja, and b) of practising a strange kind of “paid news” by running softball interviews in return for ads in the paper.

The additional edge in the Ram-Jayalalitha picture is provided by WikiLeaks.

The Hindu, which scooped the American diplomatic cables pertaining to India from WikiLeaks, gladly ran a cable showed Trinamul Congress in poor light at the height of the election campaign in bengal. The insinuation that Washington wanted to cultivate Mamata Banerjee‘s party quickly became ammunition for the Left, with Ram’s Loyola Collegemate Prakash Karat even addressing a press conference on the issue.

The Bengal cable was published on 21 April; Bengal went to the hustings on April 18, 23, 27, May 3, 7, and 10.

However, the WikiLeaks cable that showed the fissures in the DMK between the Karunanidhi family and the Maran family were published only on Monday, 23 May 2011, a month and 10 days after Tamil Nadu went to the polls and ten days after the DMK had lost the election lock, stock and 2G to Jayalalitha’s AIADMK.

The best-case scenario is that The Hindu staff chanced upon the Dayanidhi Maran cable only after results day, 13 May. The worst-case scenario is not to difficult to imagine.


Also read: The four great wars of N. Ram on Hindu soil

How The Hindu got hold of the WikiLeaks cables

External reading: Save The Hindu


  1. TK

    It was obvious to many that the The Hindu was timing the India-Wikileaks cables to benefit the CPI(M) and the DMK. Kudos for noting this and putting this on record. After such brazenly partisan behavior, can one really trust The Hindu to publish all the important cables?

    It was Ram who barked loudest against Barkha during the Radia Tapes issue. What an irony! When it comes to violating media ethics and doing favors for one’s political friends, Ram’s record is far worse than Barkha’s. The man is a habitual offender.

  2. Krishna Kumar

    ‘The Hindu’ published the cable regarding rift in DMK, atleast after the elections. Anyone who has been reading ‘The Hindu’ for a reasonably long period can say that The Hindu might have pushed under carpet, several cables critical of CPM, Islamist organisations and China.Another wikileak-style scoop is required to find out the cables secreted by ‘The Hindu’.

  3. Aatmasakshi

    San Serif forgets its own “story” as far back as March 16th, much before the Tamil Nadu elections, that The Hindu put out a Wikileak cable on newspapers being used to bribe voters in Tamil Nadu.

    If N. Ram really wanted to protect the DMK’s interests, which seems to be the roundabout insinuation here, surely he could have stopped publication of that story too?

  4. moralchallenge

    Another scandal in The Hindu: payback time for Lord Swaraj Paul and N Ram. I remember when the millionaire lord was involved in cheating Her Majesty’s government of a few tens of thousands of pounds by falsely declaring the manager’s suite in a hotel he owned as his residence even though he did not spend a single night there in order to claim an allowance for his London home. This was front page headlines in the British press and was extensively covered by the Indian newspapers. The Hindu was the exception that focussed on Swaraj Paul’s defence with many stories on his statements denying what he had admitted and been indicted for. Now the grateful lord who is the Chancellor of Wolverhampton University is conferring an honorary doctorate on N Ram! Now, is this doctorate from a cheat for cover up publicity any different from paid news that N Ram and moral crusader P Sainath have been campaigning against?

  5. Sethuraman

    They should change the name of the paper to Anti Hindu since Ram took over. My ancestors had been subscribing to the paper for more than a century and reading the editorial was compulsory when we were students to improve the diction. I stopped this when Ram took over

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