By Riya Rana:
May 16 must have been a lucky day for the BJP, and its young leader Varun Gandhi. The IPL spot fixing scandal had just broken loose. All the media channels had promptly forgotten events of the day before, with Sreesanth and two other players of the Rajasthan Royals getting arrested. What followed was a circus, going on even now. Mainstream media has been relaying IPL-related news for hours and hours, with each headline trying to beat the other in terms of ‘sensationalism’. The IPL fiasco further revealed many more arrests, accusations and investigations- keenly shown by the media, down to the minute details. Cricket fans have been betrayed and don’t mind the amount of attention given to it.
IPL is a game for the rich, and comes under the category of pure entertainment. It is a huge rainbow of players, cheerleaders, partying, exuberance, leisure and scandals. It has been highlighted way due its prominence. One thinks- What about issues more relevant to the country? IPL, no matter what, is still sport-based. Solely focusing on money-games played by the upper class and neglecting graver issues haunting our country is a clear indication of our misplaced priorities. You might wonder where Varun Gandhi comes into the equation. Here is a little background on his case:
In 2009, Varun Gandhi was contesting an election in the Pilibhit district. He already had a criminal case filed against him. He had believed that his mother Maneka Gandhi had strong influence and hence people would vote for him, trusting his dynasty. But that was not the case. Three of the five Assembly seats of Pilibhit had Muslim MLAs whereas the population of Muslims in the region was only 35%. Considering this, Varun grabbed the opportunity to hit gold by inciting communal hatred. He made hate speeches against the Muslims- by spreading rumours amongst the Hindus. His actions were recorded and watched later on TV by millions. He was charged for rioting, damaging public property, attempt to murder and even jailed for 20 days.
Fast forward to 2013.
Varun Gandhi was recently promoted to General Secretary of BJP, the youngest ever to achieve so. Also he had been exonerated of all charges, on the grounds of ‘insufficient evidence’. Two months later, Tehelka runs a sting and exposes shocking facts. All of the 88 witnesses were forced to turn hostile (anyone having Jessica Lal murder- dÃ©jÃ vu?). Tehelka has alleged Gandhi had “indulged in anti-party activities, deliberately making his own party candidate lose an Assembly election in Uttar Pradesh in 2012, so that a Samajwadi Party (SP) leader sympathetic to him could win and help him fix the cases against him”.
May 15 was the day of ‘Varun Gandhi expose’ but on May 16 it was dethroned by the IPL case. The media had found fodder but swiftly moved to greener pastures. Not even 24 hours was dedicated to its coverage. Is mainstream media only dedicated to stings and breaking news? Are ethics forgotten in the light of success? Does getting higher TRP mean losing out on professionalism? What should have been a 5-minute segment is turned into an hour’s replay of a match. But important cases are ignored- A case where justice is screwed according to a politician’s will, our justice providers become negligent, politicians go to any immoral lengths to save themselves, politicians who form policies for the junta refuse to follow it themselves cause it’s an inconvenience, and the welfare of people is forgotten for the benefit of a single politician.
One could go even deeper and claim that Varun Gandhi silenced the system. Mainstream media might have been pressurised (or even bribed) to save his name, in light of the coming general elections in 2014. Public memory tends to fade fast. And with hardly any focus on him, Gandhi might be able to elevate himself as he previously did (despite of the charges, he won the parliamentary seat for Pilibhit). With such disregard shown, it’s not hard to imagine a corrupt criminal running the country eventually, all order turning into chaos.
We rely on the media for providing us with unaltered news (and entertainment). We don’t watch the news just to be sensationalised. We already have our TV serials for that. Our legal system is getting worse, and so are the politicians. The media could be our saviour, because without them we would always be ignorant of the wrongdoings in the world. They need to pull up their socks and act responsibly, show resistance to corruption, stop focusing on rubbish and remember their true reasons for existence.