id est: war.
The ascent of Imran Khan and his initial overtures halted that talk briefly, but the deadly February 14 suicide bomber attack in Kashmir that killed over 40 paramilitary forces has warmed the cockles of many BJP supporters.
Even if India’s claim of Pakistan’s involvement, based on the suicide bomber’s video, is still to be ascertained and adduced as proof.
48 hours on, as a full-throated attempt to divert attention from the gargantuan intelligence failure under Modi’s watch gains force, shutting out voices critical of his governance by wrapping everything in the tricolour is now a full time activity.
The Gujarati newspaper Gujarat Samachar is feeling the effect of that campaign.
On February 15, the day after the attack, the headline in the Ahmedabad and Bombay editions of Gujarat’s No.1 newspaper (above) was:
56 ni chati ni kayarta: aatankwadio befaam, 44 jawano shahid
“Cowardice of 56-inch chest: terrorists uncontrollable, 44 jawans dead
That headline has provided enough fodder for blind bhakts who believe questioning the prime minister’s inadequacy at this hour or any other is not kosher.
On WhatsApp, memes like these have been doing the rounds.
In Bombay, “protesters” tore and threw the newspaper (and photo copies of its front page) into the dustbin to create one more meme for the Massive Online Open University of the brain-dead and illiterate.
Journalists working for the paper have been subjected to abuse.
On Twitter, the excellent blogger @iScrew wrote:
“Gujarat’s biggest daily newspaper Gujarat Samachar is targeted in a systematic campaign by BJP members for a critical headline the newspaper carried about #PulwamaTerroristAttack.
“A sustained SM campaign abusing the newspaper and owners with a viral abusive phone call to the editor is underway. The newspaper has been critical of Modi’s leadership and has been targeted by PM Modi himself repeatedly.”
What’s worse, the phone number of the owner and editor of the paper, Shreyans Shah has been made public.
The face-off between Gujarat Samachar and Narendra Modi goes all the way back to the time the BJP para-dropped him in Gujarat in the late 1990s. The paper saw Modi as a upstart and has repeatedly rubbed him on the wrong side.
During a recent visit to Gujarat, Modi specifically attacked the newspaper in his speech for its criticism of the ‘Ayushman Bharat’ insurance scheme when it questioned the source of funds and the method of implementation.
Modi’s criticism of the paper was aired by Gujarat Samachar on its TV channel, GSTV.
A factually correct Times of India headline too came in for much online criticism, but the paper soon apologised.
Gujarat Samachar has not apologised—and the buzz in Ahmedabad is that the newspaper has sold more copies in the last two days for its criticism of Modi’s performance.