With just a few months to go for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, a range of issues such as the Rafale controversy, the contentious 10% reservation for the economically backward and the lack of investigative journalism by mainstream media on key issues of the day were discussed by panelists Arun Shourie, N. Ram, Priya Sahgal and R. Jagannathan. The discussion at The Hindu Lit for Life was moderated by journalist Sanjay Pinto.
Speaking on the topic ‘Elections and the future of Indian democracy’, Mr. Shourie rued that the media was not doing proper follow-ups on the Rafale controversy.
“If no newspaper follows up any facts regarding Rafale — ₹20,000 crore not being paid to HAL for work that they completed, but ₹20,000 crore being paid to Dassault for work they haven’t begun…— if nothing is followed up, then Amit Shah can say there is no stain on the Modi government,” he said.
N. Ram, chairman, THG Publishing Pvt. Ltd, said: “What is striking is the poverty of investigative journalism on many key issues of the day, leading up to the elections. TV channels do a lot of investigations…but those are mainly stings.”
He also said that the ‘one nation, one election’ idea was “foolish”. “It is absurd to think about it. The government could be elected and it could fall mid-term. So what happens then?” he asked.
‘A recipe for disaster’
Rahul Gandhi had done well for his party and his stock had risen, he added. “Should Rahul Gandhi stake claim to be Prime Minister? Absolutely not. That will be a recipe for disaster. I am not underplaying his role. He has been extremely aggressive, but where is it [Congress] in Uttar Pradesh? When they all get together, BJP will have far less majority,” he said.
Speaking about the 10% reservation for the economically poor, journalist R. Jagannathan said, “They have opened a pandora’s box. There is going to be no limits on the kind of demands that will come from various social and economically backward groups. All governments in their fifth year are nervous.”
He also said it was a tragedy that 2019 would provide a binary choice — Modi or not Modi.
Television journalist from NewsX, Priya Sahgal, said, “The pressure is never on the journalist per se, at least in mainstream media. When a member of the audience at a book release in Delhi asked a cabinet member about intolerance in the country, the Minister said the fact that he couldlook the Minister in the eye and ask such a question itself meant there was no atmosphere of intolerance. These are the subtle messages that are given.”
Article source: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/shourie-media-needs-to-do-more-follow-ups-put-govt-on-the-mat/article25982874.ece