Netas have a penchant for milking a tragedy, particularly in the poll season. In the wake of the February 14 terror attack in Pulwama, which killed over 40 CRPF personnel, the ruling BJP as well as the Opposition parties clearly saw an opportunity to earn some goodwill. They visited the families of the martyrs, camera teams in tow, to show their solidarity.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi even tasked former armyman and now Union I&B minister Rajyavardhan Rathore with ensuring that all central ministers and key BJP leaders visit the families of the martyrs in their respective states. Overzealousness to comply with the diktat proved costly for Union minister Satyapal Singh, Uttar Pradesh cabinet minister Sidharth Nath Singh and BJP MLA Rajinder Agarwal when they reached Basa Tikri village in Meerut to attend the cremation of jawan Ajay Kumar. In a video that has gone viral, relatives of Kumar can be heard shouting at the BJP leaders for coming to the funeral site wearing shoes. The leaders and their security detail can be seen trying to pacify the angry family members who wanted the netas to leave the site. Sidharth Nath Singh is seen removing his shoes and handing them to an aide seated behind him. Another video shows Satyapal Singh laughing animatedly while at the cremation ground.
The Supreme Court’s recent verdict on the separation of powers of the Delhi government and the Lt-governor had left Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal disappointed. The apex court remained non-committal on who controls the state’s bureaucracy, but restored the powers of the LG over the anti-corruption branch and for constituting commissions of inquiry. Kejriwal slammed the apex court and lamented that despite the AAP’s brute majority, it still had no powers over critical matters of the state’s governance.
With Lok Sabha polls due in two months, Kejriwal has revived his pitch for Delhi’s statehood. The new campaign, however, comes with a twist. Besides Kejriwal and his colleagues enumerating the reasons why full statehood is necessary for better governance, the party has also dug out video clips of interviews that BJP leaders, especially from Delhi, gave to various news channels in the run-up to the last assembly polls in the national capital. BJP leaders like Harsh Vardhan and Vijay Goel had repeatedly impressed the need for granting Delhi full statehood during their campaigns for the past two assembly polls and the BJP’s manifesto too had highlighted the promise.
Now, Kejriwal and AAP leaders are widely circulating these videos on social media. One such video shared by AAP on Twitter shows Union minister and Delhi MP Harsh Vardhan addressing a gathering where he speaks of the need for Delhi to be granted full statehood. The tweet by AAP says: “BJP MP @drharshvardhan supports the demand of full statehood for Delhi. RT & Share if you agree with Dr. Harshvardhan”.
Fall Guy Doval
It is now public knowledge that while the nation reacted with shock, horror and anger, the February 14 terror attack in Pulwama, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was busy shooting for a Discovery channel documentary at Jim Corbett National Park. The subject of the documentary, reportedly, was Modi himself—his self-publicised “spiritual” sojourns in the jungle before his meteoric political rise.
Modi’s decision to keep shooting instead of rushing back to Delhi has triggered public outrage, evident on all social media platforms. As images of Modi shooting in Corbett and leaving the national park late evening—by when the Pulwama ambush was already streaming on all news channels—made their way to Twitter, his spin doctors, and a complicit mainstream media, were back at work.
Modi confidant Ajit Doval has been made the predictable fall guy with “sources” telling journalists that Modi was extremely upset with the NSA for not informing him about the terror attack. To make the spin sound more “Modi-esque”, some media outlets even claimed that Modi refused to eat anything after finally getting to know of the attack!
There are few takers for this manipulation. Whichever way one looks at this implausible narrative, Modi doesn’t come out looking like the leader he projects himself to be. As one Twitter user said: “If the NSA couldn’t reach the PM via secure channels, it is a disaster. If NSA deliberately did not inform the PM, it is a disaster. If the PM, was informed & yet didn’t stop shooting, it is a disaster. (sic)”.