Intimidated by Laloo Yadav

IN Regional Media | 22/12/2004
Intimidated by Laloo Yadav

 

 

The local media ignored the Star News report on the Bihar leader distributing a hundred rupees each to women in the rural areas, even as the Election Commission took cognisance of it.

 

 

 

Ajay Kumar

 

 

Laloo Yadav is a politician who has mastered the art of being in the media limelight. The man who has desperately failed on the governance front remains a cynosure for not only the masses of India but even for neighbouring Pakistan. All sorts of media are always vying for his bites and quotes even if  it is nonsense.

 

The national and international media are all praise for him due to his easy accessibility and capacity for free and frank conversation. It makes the journalist’s task easier in drafting a story capturing all sorts of contradictions of the poorest state with a powerful politician deciding the destiny of 80 million people larger than Germany or France.

 

Sometimes Laloo who enjoys immense power becomes intolerant to criticism and goes to any extent to bring the popular media to toe his line. Being in power for last 15 years, he enjoyed immense authority to develop Bihar. But he could not do so and should take responsibility for backwardness and poor law and order, which has forced large-scale migration from the state.

 

Very often the media have exposed Laloo (mostly English newspapers) right from the days of fodder scam. But this man knows how to handle media and project his persona to the people as a powerful mass leader. He understands the limitation of English media and its reach to the voters of Bihar. He cannot afford to ignore electronic media. But recently everyone failed to understand when newspapers and Star news were publishing and  showing the print outs of phone numbers of ministers and senior police officers whom Pappu called from his mobile phone. Among them were the Jail minister and the office of Chief Minister.

 

Doctors moved to streets leaving their clinics and hospitals demanding a check on the activities of the criminals operating from jails. This protest was of the concern for every citizen of the country but the reaction of Laloo Yadav was very different. He openly scolded journalists in a public meeting at Biharsharif and threatened the media persons that he would make public the names of those who were in touch with Pappu Yadav, in full view of T.V cameras.

 

Star News recently showed how Laloo was distributing hundred rupees to each woman in rural area after the announcement of election dates ignoring all codes of conduct of election commission. This news was published in national daily The Indian Express but the local media ignored it which is significant. Taking cognizance of the T.V Report, a little later, the Election Commission ordered action against Laloo Yadav. 

 

That the media is afraid of Laloo Yadav was demonstrated in the case of vernacular newspapers. Recently at least on two occasions, the newspaper Hindustan contradicted its own front-page news. One was Laloo’s intention to remove all religious establishments from the railway premises and the second was related to the ultra leftist threat to different government buildings of Patna before the RJD rally. Instead of publishing the contradiction, the newspaper contradicted its own story prominently. Are our editors working independently or easily succumbing to any external pressure? A local daily recently published a story how Laloo threatened all resident editors if they crossed their limits…

 

Only few days back the chief minister of Bihar, Rabri Devi innocently accused the civil servants of Bihar and termed them as inefficient and corrupt who siphoned all government money made for common people. Perhaps this open confession of a chief minister would have made headlines in all newspaper next day but surprisingly not single column news was published in any newspaper next day. Of course one local TV channel had carried this news and telecast the recorded version.

 

This is rally time in Patna; every nook and corner is painted with RJD slogans and all hoardings, be it advertisements related to AIDS, or family planning, or those of the police, are painted with slogans and names of RJD leaders. All kinds of public nuisance is committed in the name of rally. Almost all newspapers are full of news of RJD leaders visiting different areas. How crores of rupees are spent on rally and how this money is managed in the poorest state of the country is a moot question. Hundreds of government employees died waiting for their salaries in the last couple of years. The insensitiveness of the governing authority should be exposed on these occasions, rather making news of the extravaganza and vulgar display of money and muscle power. It makes even a common reader in the street feel doubtful that newspapers are really independent.

 

Bihar is politically one of the most vibrant states where newspapers are perhaps the costliest (Rs.3.50) in the country due to lack of competition among the news papers. But they have failed to focus on the real socio-political issues and challenges in the society. Bihar has guided the destiny of the country in the past. For how long will the crumbling of this important pillar of democracy be allowed? 

 

Ajay Kumar is based in Patna and is the editor of Bihartimes.com. contact: ajay@bihartimes.com
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