The handling of the public anger at the brutal gangrape of a young woman in Delhi by the government has come under severe criticism by the Sangh Parivar mouthpieces. Both the Organiser and Panchjanya have carried cover stories highlighting the police action and the clampdown on the protests in the national capital. While criticising the tactics employed by the government as reminiscent of state control during the Emergency, the cover story and the editorial in the Organiser claim that the “sheer absence of communication skills” is the reason behind the establishment’s failure to “engage” with an “aspirational citizenry... demanding more from their rulers”.
The Organiser, in fact, has highlighted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s decision to break his silence a week after the incident by contrasting it with US President Barack Obama’s address “within hours” after the Connecticut school shooting. It has also compared how Sonia and Rahul Gandhi sought to only cosmetically engage with the protesters with how the then external affairs minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, pacified protesters after the kidnapping, rape and killing of young Geeta and her brother Sanjay in 1978, despite the fact that Vajpayee was hit by a stone thrown from amidst the protesters. It also mentions how L.K. Advani ignored the “smouldering” situation during the anti-Mandal agitations and visited a critical student after his attempt at self-immolation.
An editorial in Panchjanya has described the recent National Development Council (NDC) meet to approve the Twelfth Five Year Plan as another occasion that allegedly exposed the government’s “aimlessness” and “lack of (political) will” to assure the country of future economic well-being. Claiming that the PM failed to give positive signals about the right “directions and intentions” of economic policy, the editorial claims he signalled the further burdening of the common citizen with more price rises for diesel and kerosene.
Highlighting the reservations expressed by several chief ministers about the direct cash transfer scheme, the editorial justifies these by calling cash transfer a political stunt aimed at bluffing people with an eye to the next election. While the editorial uses Tamil Nadu CM J. Jayalalithaa’s walkout to criticise the PM and top Congress leaders’ attempts to take credit for development in states, it lambastes the government with Gujarat CM Narendra Modi’s criticism that the entire country (all CMs) was summoned to fix a growth target of 8 per cent while Gujarat is growing at 11 per cent. “This government has neither an action plan nor a leader,” Modi has been quoted on the lack of leadership at the national level.
An article in the Organiser criticises the Union government for not objecting to the court permission to the two Italian mariners, accused of shooting two Indian fishermen in Indian waters last year, to go home for Christmas for two weeks. While the article’s blurb alleges, “Sonia interferes to release Italian marines”, the article only emphasises the pressure from the Italian government as well as lobbying by Catholic priests to get the marines freed. But it doesn’t provide any evidence to substantiate its claims.
Compiled by Ravish Tiwari