Dainik Jagran is today among the largest newspapers
in our country. It is published from 12 cities in UP. Its
circulation is around 7 lakhs. Amar Ujala is also a substantial
paper. Its circulation is about 3.5 lakhs.
Addressing a public meeting on October 12, UP chief
minister Mulayam Singh Yadav denounced the two papers, "Halla Bol",
he exhorted his followers, "Commence the storming". Why read them,
he told them, you don't have to even see them. No one present had
any doubt what they meant: Don't let them be seen, that is what it
Knowing from past experience what could be in store
for them, many journalits left the meeting post-haste.
Since that call, hawkers and news agents selling
the two papers have been beaten up. Journalists of the two papers
have been beaten up. Vehicles carrying Jagran have been waylaid and
burnt. The house of the editor of Amar Ujala has been attacked.
Advertisements to the papers have been cut. Thousands upon thousands
of copies of the papers been torched.
Several of the "national" papers in Delhi have just
looked the other way. As I write this the assault has been going on
for 12 days. It is not just that The Times of India has not deigned
to comment on it editorially, for the first 11 days it had not
carried one word, not on the matter even in its news columns. It was
only on the 12th day, after the studied inattention had been brought
to the personal attention of the proprietors of Times of India, that
the paper carried a "news analysis" on the assault. "Veteran
journalists", and civil righters who have been fulminating at the
arrest of a pro-ULFA editor in Guwahati, who have been issuing
statements about an editor being prosecuted for publishing
pornographic material, who were all sound and fury when the
government had to restrain a Jalandhar paper from carrying material
helpful to the terrorists -- not a line out of any one of them on
the assault on these two papers.
Now, supposing some chief minister had exhorted his
followers to attack, say, Mainstream. Compared to the circulation of
Dainik Jagran and Amar Ujala, its circulation is as good as
non-existent. Having devoted itself to glorifying the communist
regimes of East Europe etc, the magazine is, at least in content,
almost defunct. But a chief minister would have to have just uttered
the words Mulayam Singh used, and what a mighty din our "national
papers" would have raised.
The reason for the difference speak to our
Those two papers are published from out of Delhi.
Mainstream is published in Delhi.
More consequential, those two papers are published
in Hindi, Mainstream in English.
Even more consequential is the identity of the
instigator. Imagine what they would have done if a BJP leader had
sparked the assault. But Mulayam Singh is the hope of the
But the most consequential fact is another one: The
"national papers" have dubbed Dainik Jagran and Amar Ujala to be
"communal papers" -- that is, "pro-Hindu papers", for I have never
heard any secular journalist dub the papers even of the Muslim
League, to say nothing of papers of the Akalis, "communal" -- while
Mainstream has of course always been a "progressive"
Similarly, recall the fury that they displayed when
Safdar Hashmi, an actor close to the CPI(M), was killed, so much so
that a substantial industry has grown up out of that death. The
other day, P Rajgopalan, the president of the Hindu Munnani, was
hacked to death in Madurai. Some of the papers took due notice of
the killing, others deigned merely to put it on their inside pages.
It was only in the brief announcements of his death that we learnt
that he had suffered grievous head injuries as a result, and that at
the time he was killed he had recovered from them. Even the papers
which had reported the hacking to death the first day, had
completely forgotten it by the next day.
For four years over two lakh refugees driven out of
their homes in the Valley have been rotting under torn tents in
Jammu. We scarcely hear of them. Long ago, Mr L K Advani had asked
the telling question about them: What, and how much would our
"national papers" have been writing about them had they not been
Hindus, if they had been Muslims in particular?
The same question can be asked about the women who
were chased into the sugarcane fields and molested and raped by
Mulayam Singh's "police". One or two reports, and the matter has
been allowed to be forgotten. Indeed, great play has been given to
statements which have pooh-poohed the assault. What would the
"national papers" not have done if the women had been Muslims or
"activists of the CPI(M) "? And what would the papers have not been
doing if the assault on these women, if the assault on the Allahabad
High Court had taken place with a BJP government in office?
Now, the point is not that these papers have any
particular sympathy for Muslims, or for the "progressiveness". It is
just that to be seen in photographs with them so to say, has been
the fashion. It has been the way to establish one's "secularism",
one's " commitment to total transformation".
The commentators justify, and where that is not
possible condone, and where even that is not possible paperover
everything Mulayam Singh or Laloo Yadav do on the ground, "But the
alternative is BJP". That is bad enough: They have thus become
accomplices in the ruin of institutions, in the spreading of
casteism in UP and Bihar. And given this logic, the unbalance is
certain to get worse in the coming months: The worse the conduct of
Mulayam Singh and Laloo Yadav gets, the more these editorialists
will have to strain to justify the continuance of these leaders; and
so the more lurid the colors in which these editorialists will have
to, and therefore will paint the BJP etc.
But I believe that to think that these commentators
are justifying and condoning the deeds of Mulayam Singh and Laloo
Yadav because doing so is their way of keeping the BJP out, to think
this is to put too high a motive on their double-standards. What
they dread is not, "But the alternative is the BJP". What they dread
is to have to give up the epithets and phrases and "theses" they
have internalised. These are the only phrases and "theses" they
There is an exact counterpart to them in academia.
The world has changed since 1989. The collapse of the Soviet Union
and East European communist regimes has shown how bogus were the
claims of Marxism-Leninism. But at the Jawahar Lal Nehru University
in Delhi, at the Central University in Hydrabad, the same textbooks
continue to be taught, the same verbiage continues to be
regurgitated. Now, that is not because the professors fear "But the
alternative is American imperialism", and going on vomiting the old
phrases and 'analyses' is their way of helping roll back that
imperialism. Their fear is that to notice the collapse of the
regimes they had idolised would mean to blow up the investment of
their lifetime -- in those "analyses" and "theses" and those
forecastes about the "galloping crisis of capitalism." You can
imagine how acute that dread is when those "analyses" and theses are
the only ones one knows.
And so they continue teaching the same things from
the same textbooks. It is for that same reason, and not about any
convictions about the BJP etc. that our commentators persist with
their double standards.
At the least, these double-standards nudge
politicians into adopting ruinous policies. The simple-minded
equivalences of our indigenous ideologues -- "Nationalization equals
Socialism. Socialism equals helping the poor" -- are what cheered
Mrs Indira Gandhi on to her ruinous policies not the Fabians. She
hadn't read the latter. The same sorts of derailments continue to
this day: "Reservations equal Social Justice", for instance.
Imagine the government introduced a bill in
Parliament laying down in effect that tenancy and rent control laws
would not apply to any property owned by Muslim trusts: If the lease
is more than a year old, tenants from them will henceforth be
evicted the bill provides, and the district authorities shall use
such force as is necessary to evict them. Not a word of protest from
our secular "national press". Naturally then, to get votes of the
Muslim league members, the government introduces the bill. And that
will surely stoke demands from the Hindus.
Imagine a prime minister announcing that he is
setting aside Rs 500 crore for a new bank to be used by Hindus
alone. The papers would shout and scream, and the prime minister
would be kept to the path of secularism. But he announced just that
in his Independence Day address in August, except that the 500 crore
are going to be for a bank which shall lend only to non-Hindus. Not
a word from the secular commentators. So, from the prime minister's
point of view this is yet another costless way of wooing the Muslim
vote: The thekedars who will deliver the Muslim votes are
pleased for they shall acquire 500 crores to disburse, the money is
public money so it is no skin off the prime minister's back, and, as
the papers look the other way, his secular credentials too remain
So, public policy is goaded into ruinous
directions. There are two additional consequences which are even
worse. They will descend with the greatest force on the very groups
on whose behalf these papers and rulers say they are shouting.
Apart from other consequences, the destruction of
the Babri mosque had one dramatic effect: It brought home to the
ordinary Muslim the costs of the Shahabuddin, Imam Bukhari, Owaisi
type politics. In the months that followed therefore, leaders of
their kind were held responsible by Muslims for what had befallen
Muslims. They were shunned. Some of them were heckled down when they
got up to speak at meetings of Muslims. The voices that were
listened to by Muslims, the voices that reached non-Muslims as being
representative of Muslim opinion were the moderate ones: Of
Bandookwala from Baroda, of Imtiaz Ahmed and others from Delhi.
With the double-standards back in full tilt, the
moderate voices have receded again, into complete oblivion. The old
politics and thekedars are back again.
The consequences will not be different. These
revolutionaries-by-proxy commentators cheered Laloo Yadav as the
man-of-the-people, exactly as they are rationalizing Mulayam Singh
today. But the principal consequence of the politics of these
leaders has been to ignite the strongest hatred of Yadavs in Bihar
and UP. In cheering such leaders for their "secularism", in
exhorting the Muslims -- I am using the very words of one of the
leading ideologues of this new social engineering -- "to vote as
Muslims and thereby help defeat the forces of fascism," these
fellows are fomenting the same consequence for Muslims.
The consequence is made all the more certain as the
return to double standards -- in differentiating between papers
that are assaulted, in differentiating between persons who are
killed, in differentiating between persons who are driven out of
their homes, in differentiating between women who are raped, in
differentiating between banks and properties depending on whether
they are owned by and meant for Hindus or non-Hindus -- in doing so
the secularists are once again causing Hindus to conclude that they
do not have voice in their own country.
Few things could do better calculated than these
regressions to put Hindus back on the road to