Out, damned spot?

BY Darius Nakhoonwala| IN Opinion | 06/12/2014
It was a nice play on words for anyone who is not a minister. But alas, the lady is one and everyone, including the Prime Minister, was appalled.
DARIUS NAKHOONWALA on the response of editorial writers to Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti’s unparliamentary language (Pix: The Sadhvi; courtesy: Lok Sabha TV).
You don’t say!
Darius Nakhoonwala
Have you ever wondered why the editors of newspapers can call for all sorts of action from their governments but TV editors have to do it via panellists? The latest example of this came over Ms Niranjan Jyoti’s remark that all those who vote for the BJP are ramzadas and those who don’t are haramzadas.

It was a nice play on words for anyone who is not a minister. But alas, the lady is one and everyone, including the Prime Minister, was appalled. Even Pioneer was moved to say “that Union Minister Niranjan Jyoti had made an inappropriate, even abusive, remark”. 

But it lost its nerve after that and the edit simply asked the Opposition to let Parliament function. “Ms Jyoti (has) tendered an apology and the Prime Minister (has) made a statement in Parliament, that he had strongly disapproves...It is clear from the Government's position that it will not tolerate a repeat of such foul-mouthed conduct.” 

We will see about that, won’t we, Chandan dear?

The Indian Express, the Hindu and the Times of India were not so forgiving. Like Lady Macbeth they chanted in unison “Out, damned spot”.

The Express wanted to know if an apology would do or if “Niranjan Jyoti must be asked to resign from the ministry.” Yes, she should, it said because, well, “At best, her continuation as minister is a distraction from Modi’s stated agenda for change. At worst, it suggests that this government’s professions to be religion-neutral provide a cover for the free rein it seems to give to a lengthening line of bigots and chauvinists.” How wordy can you get?

The Hindu did what it does best: profess undying indignation. “The remarks... were communal, provocative... Her apology was weak, and evidently made under duress... from the context of her speech it is evident the remarks were made neither casually nor in the heat of the moment... the apology seems to have been offered to deflect the attacks of the opposition parties... by adamantly refusing to drop her from the Ministry, Mr. Modi is indeed sending encouraging signals to the core Hindutva constituency that she was addressing while making the offensive remarks...The best way for the Prime Minister is to sack her without further loss of time.”

The Times of India, was less forthright. “Now that the minister has apologised, calls for her sacking and resignation are a trifle excessive and nothing but a short-sighted opposition attempt at cornering the government and stalling the House...” Then it gave sermon on good manners. I will not burden with you with it.

The Telegraph, poor thing, somehow missed saying anything about Ms Niranjan Jyoti but two days later she got her chance to even the score. Mamata Banerjee said a bamboo had been shoved up Amit Shah’s arse. It wept that “the redoubtable chief minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, at meeting after meeting is spewing abuse and, more recently, making matters worse by the use of obscene gestures.” Giggle, giggle. 

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The new term for self censorship is voluntary censorship, as proposed by companies like Netflix and Hotstar. ET reports that streaming video service Amazon Prime is opposing a move by its peers to adopt a voluntary censorship code in anticipation of the Indian government coming up with its own rules. Amazon is resisting because it fears that it may alienate paying subscribers.                   

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