Even before he sat down last month with Kalpesh Yagnik of Dainik Bhaskar and Arnab Goswami of Times Now for one-on-one interviews, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had met Editors in Delhi off and on, more off than on.
These meetings were long, relaxed, informal but strictly off the record.
Smart phones and cameras had to be deposited with the security guards before entering the venue, where on each chair lay a piece of cardboard with a pencil to take notes.
Attendees were free to report what was uttered without directly quoting Rahul Gandhi or suggesting that he was the source. So, “highly placed Congress sources said…” kind of stories were legion even if nothing earthshaking had been revealed.
The arrangement worked neatly in Delhi where the deference to power borders on stenographic servility.
Not so in the rest of the country.
As “The Candidate who doesn’t say he is The Candidate” goes around the country spearheading his party’s election campaign, his media meisters are enabling journalists from the “regional” media to come face to face with Gandhi. And the results are not always to script.
In Karnataka, on Saturday, Rahul Gandhi met Bangalore’s editors informally “not for reporting“—and if Ajay Maken & Co expected stenographic servility in cyber-coolie capital, they were in for a surprise.
Kannada Prabha, the daily newspaper that mobile phone baron turned media baron Rajeev Chandrasekhar bought from the New Indian Express group, front-paged Rahul Gandhi’s interaction with the media, accompanied by a photograph shot with a cell phone.
Editor-in-Chief Vishweshwar Bhat recorded his impressions of the 45-minute meeting, with a three-deck headline saying it all: “It’s nice to see and hear Rahul’s words, but they are impractical. He is a good purchaser/ customer of his own ideas”.
On his Twitter account, Bhat wrote: “Rahul freely and excessively used the words, system and process. After 20, I lost and stopped the counting.”
And over a six-column story that spills on to page 8, Bhat provides his interpretation of all Gandhi said.
“When he repeatedly spoke of inner-party democracy, and the requirement for a new atmosphere, a new system and a new culture in the party, The Times of India‘s Washington correspondent Chidanand Rajghatta (who hails from Bangalore) said to Rahul:
“We have been hearing the same words, since the party’s Bombay national executive meeting, for the last 25 years. But the party has remained the same and the dinosaurs have survived.”
“For a moment, Rahul was stumped, and then said maybe Chidu shouldn’t have used the word ‘dinosaurs’.”
For the record, Rahul Gandhi held a similar interaction in Bhubaneshwar on February 9, which one participant described as “super-boring“.
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What else can you expect from Vishweshwar Bhat who is a dyed in the wool chaddi. Does he think we would have forgotten his ABVP roots ?
It is a case of ‘Ramoji Rao speaking’ really because Arnab Goswami is paid for his 90 minutes on TV glare and Rahul Gandhi adlibbed patiently to the former’s diatribe in good humor. It is for you to say who was ‘Ramoji Rao’!
I think this blog seems to have gone on a tangent on the conclusion drawn.
Just because one newspaper, owned by a BJP MP, decided to break rank and publish an article that doesn’t present Mr. Gandhi positively, doesn’t mean that the media in the south are less susceptible to political influence. In fact, I’d say that this incident is a good example of the exact opposite of what you are saying.
This also reminds me of the incident where a Sun TV anchor was fired because he asked his viewers “to think twice before voting for Mr. Narendra Modi”.
We have been hearing the same words, since the party’s Bombay national executive meeting, for the last 25 years. But the party has remained the same and the dinosaurs have survived.
I would correct him and say that we have been hearing this for the past 50 years.
His grandmother Indira Gandhi mentioned in an interview about taking democracy to the grass-roots and added that the effort hadn’t been satisfactory. She died before she could execute her vision.
His father too worked to implement the same, and made some progress in the form of Panchayath elections. But his assassination interrupted this.
The congress then drifted for nearly a decade.
It wasn’t until Mrs. Sonia Gandhi took charge, that Congress found a determined vision under Mr. Rahul Gandhi. Those who are aware of how he has revamped the youth congress and NSUI understand what he is talking about – he is carrying on the interrupted work of his visionary grandmother and father.
Steve Jobs once said,’There’s no other company that could make a MacBook Air and the reason is that not only do we control the hardware, but we control the operating system. And it is the intimate interaction between the operating system and the hardware that allows us to do that. There is no intimate interaction between Windows and a Dell notebook.’That’s is the difference between RG and NM.