As the 2014 general election campaign gathers steam, the masks are beginning to come off, as journalists who make no pretence of their political and ideological inclinations (without disclosing it publicly) walk over to the other side, just as they did in previous elections.
Ashutosh of IBN-7 is officially the Aam Aadmi Party’s candidate from Chandni Chowk; Manish Sisodia of ex-Zee News has already done a stint as Delhi education minister; Shazia Ilmi of ex-Star News could stand against one or the other Congress or BJP heavyweight.
The buzz is a number of scribes are being tapped by AAP to make the switch.
Both in the 2004 and 2009 elections the BJP had no shortage of journalists, columnists and editors advising it from inside and outside. And 2013 is proving to be no different.
At a recent event in New Delhi to release a book titled Moditva, former Telegraph editor M.J. Akbar and former India Today managing editor Swapan Dasgupta (both columnists for The Sunday Times of India) were helpfully at hand, making no bones about where they stand.
The Telegraph, Calcutta, reported the BJP president Rajnath Singh‘s address thus:
“When I first heard of the book, I was certain it was authored by a politician or someone wanting to get to the Rajya Sabha or acquire a post when our government is formed….
“I was amazed to know that this young man [Siddharth Mazumdar of Columbia] was not a politician or a political aspirant” added Rajnath, before looking long and hard at a group of panellists who had taken their seats for a discussion.
For the record, the other members at the book-release panel were economist Bibek Debroy, former Delhi police chief Kiran Bedi (a likely BJP Lok Sabha candidate), the BJP’s stormy petrel Subramanian Swamy, and BJP treasurer Piyush Goyal (who is already a Rajya sabha member).
Also for the record, M.J. Akbar is a former Congress member of Parliament from Kishanganj, Bihar. His name was mentioned in 2008 as a potential BJP member of the upper house along with former India Today editor Prabhu Chawla.
Photograph: courtesy The Pioneer
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That politicians, who need votes, seek to influence the press is not the least bit surprising.That a certain breed of journalist not only submits but is actually eager to form a club with those whose activities they report is more corrupt but unsurprising.