Media, Laloo and Bihar

BY vimal kumar| IN Media Practice | 27/09/2004

Media, Laloo and Bihar


The media and Laloo exploit each other to such an extent that they also have a sort of love-hate relationship with each other.



Reproduced from Prabhat Khabar, Patna Edition, July 12,2004

                                Translated by Dhiraj Sinha


Vimal Kumar


Unlike previous birthday parties this year, the RJD supreme, Laloo Prasad Yadav celebrated his birthday with much fanfare along with his party workers, supporters, colleagues, and friends and in full media glare. It was not a private function where Laloo would have been at liberty to dress himself casually, yet, he was absolutely casual in his dress and attended the function shirtless and did not shy away from the Media glare. 

If Salman Khan could come shirtless on the silver screen, Laloo too as a politician has every right to come shirtless on the screen of national politics. Salman Khan has been severely criticized for his shirtless style, so should also be the case with Laloo Prasad Yadav. However the shirtless picture of Laloo Prasad Yadav reflects his rustic life style whereas Salman Khan’s style is obscene and vulgar to view.  

The rustic style of Laloo Prasad Yadav has been derived from his rural background and rural politics. But, the contradiction is that despite him being rustic in his style, he has very well managed to mix the elite and rural under one umbrella. Coming from a rural background he should have been offering Ladoos to Lord Hanuman on the eve of his birthday, instead he was cutting a cake, which shows him adopting the western culture. But, this is Laloo’s  style where he mixes the rustic and elite with such ease and still is the leader of masses. 

The fusion of elite and rustic or we can say "Laloo style" can be easily seen in his private meetings, functions or public occasions. Through this fusion of Laloo style one can understand the politics of Bihar in the last 15 years. This fusion is also a political collage of tarnished Bihar which includes the extreme backwardness of the state, along with the corrupt middle class adopting a different type of consumerism where wealth is displayed with much fanfare and money is flushed like dirt. 

The political collage of Bihar has long been in existence in the media, which reflects that the media has indeed carried a message of some importance. The collage of Bihar comprises of exploitation, injustice, suppression, inequality and caste-related carnage, backwardness, crime, no law and order, struggle for land, money and vulgar display power and money. However, such things happen in other states also, but one hardly hears similar echoes as about Bihar in the media. 

Political parties such as the  Bharatiya Janata Party and the Janata Dal (U) do demand for President’s rule in Bihar but stay mum in case of Gujarat where a communal riot was instigated by the state government itself. Thousands of people were killed and that incident has indeed blackened the face of India, yet the media has now forgotten and has almost stopped giving space to its chief minister Narendra Modi. 

Why is the Media against Laloo Prasad Yadav? Is it because it is prejudiced and has preconceived notions about Laloo which continuously work against him, or is it because of Laloo’s working style and his administrative failures in controlling crime, backwardness, injustice, and caste-related massacres? 

Not only Laloo, but Mayawati and her supporters too have blamed the media for its being biased and against the politics of social justice. However, to some extent Laloo is right, because basically the media is governed by the views of the middle class and therefore their view of the dalits, backwards and the minorities is narrow and they also overlook the issues and problems of the downtrodden. However, exceptions are there and by blaming the media, Laloo cannot wash his hands from his responsibilities.  

In the age of consumerism, the media basically understands the language of power, it does not matter if the power is economical, political or religious. In the last few years the Media has given more than enough importance to Laloo Prasad Yadav and that is because Laloo has attained power from his politics, which they cannot afford to overlook. To keep Laloo in the centre has become a necessity for the Media because of his market. Today, Laloo has become a saleable product for the media and therefore it presents him as a buffoon or a clown and that has got a good market. Laloo knows himself and his origins and loves the television images that portray him as the rustic - warts and all, may be - but surely uninhibited. It seems like he would do anything to preserve this image since it helps him to further and develop his political market. In fact, Media and Laloo exploit each other to such extent that they also have a sort of love-hate relationship with each other. 

This duel between the media and Laloo has portrayed the negative image of Bihar and both remain unaware of the basic problems of the State. Both media and Laloo are to be blamed for the unfortunate image of Bihar which has emerged, because both could not provide the required platform to reflect the cultural heritage of Bihar, the problems, and desperations of the masses. 

It is often said the there is no dearth of educated and vibrant people in Bihar, but it is because of no proper direction that today the state is hapless and backward. After all the student’s movement which started in 1977 under the leadership of Jayprakash Narain threw away the autocratic rule and today the same leaders have in fact hijacked the whole state. As if the seed for an unfortunate Bihar  was sown during the protest led by Jaiprakash Narain.  

If Bihar has to change, it is the people themselves who will have to initiate change, since it would be futile to expect from the media to voice or portray Bihar and its problems from a positive perspective. 

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