A Good Come of Evil
Can a communal riot have a silver lining? Or is the idea absurd? The dreadful events at Muzaffarnagar now lie totally exposed, for which much of the credit should go to the media. The gameplan was crude and tested. With an eye on the coming general elections, how to break the ancient bonds between Jats and Muslims to benefit the SP and the BJP. Much has been made of the role of the BJP in stirring the pot to provoke the riots. I don’t intend to let off the BJP, they will do what they know how to do best. The real culprit, however, is Mulayam Singh Yadav’s SP which runs the government in UP.
How much blame should be put on Akhilesh? Increasingly, he looks like a pathetic prisoner, so I am not sure. There are other players in the SP in the shape of uncles and Azam Khan, who helped fan the communal environment. It is not important who exactly in the SP is responsible, what is important is that the double-dealing has boomeranged rather unexpectedly.
The Muslims of Muzaffarnagar, who Mulayam anticipated would come running to him pleading “protect us”, thus further cementing their loyalty, did precisely the opposite: they saw through the appalling game and turned on the SP.
The silver lining? The community the SP claims guardianship over is now looking at other options. It refuses to be used as cannon fodder. More good news: thanks to the extensive media coverage of the culprits, and thanks to the pointed accusations made by Muslim bodies against the SP for facilitating the riots, Mulayam & Co have nowhere to hide. The Muslims, hopefully, will vote against them.
Let this be an object lesson to other political parties which habitually practise similar breach of trust for short-term gains. Such despicable tactics can, and will, be counter-productive.
Coup de Tata
Since this seems to be the season for coups, here is a coup story. But I better tell it carefully, so as not to offend my friend Shekhar Gupta, the editor-in-chief of The Indian Express who has filed a Rs 500-crore defamation suit against me and Open magazine for expressing a mildly critical opinion on his earlier coup report, instigated allegedly by you-know-who.
In the mid-’70s, when I had just taken over as editor of Debonair and determined that every issue of the girlie magazine be a national talking point, I asked a close friend, a major in the army, to do an article on how a coup could be mounted in India. He duly obliged and somewhere in the back issues of Debonair gathering dust, the article languishes. I do not remember the precise details, but his blueprint, among other things, included taking over DD and arresting Indira Gandhi at midnight. Pretty laughable stuff. No one took a blind bit of notice of the article. No one asked me for an interview. I remained the editor of a ‘dirty’ magazine.
Some months later, an IB man, smoking a beedi, came to my office and asked if I could give him the name of the major who had written the anti-national article. (I had taken abundant caution in not identifying the traitor.) I told him it came to me anonymously in the post. He seemed satisfied, had tea, admired the nudes pasted on my walls and left.
Britain and America’s appetite for war remains unquenched. After the lies of Bush and Blair and their crude intelligence manipulation to justify the Iraq invasion, Cameron and Obama went the extra mile to repeat the falsehood in order to punish Syria. Both were emphatically rebuffed. Cameron suffered a humiliating defeat in parliament, while Obama was warned by his aides that the mood in Congress was resolutely anti-war. Obama then came up with a new strategic doctrine, “limited war”. That had no takers either.
Public opinion across the globe, except in Israel, is overwhelmingly opposed to another repeat of the Iraq adventurism. It is surprising that Obama, who came to power promising no unilateral action, should be caught in war-mongering. Had it not been for the sensible Russian formula, the United States seemed embarked on a suicidal course.
Assad is no angel. But he presides over a secular dictatorship. The charge of gassing his own people is repugnant. It must be credibly investigated. However, the opposition in Syria is increasingly coming under the control of Al Qaeda affiliates. Do we want Syria to turn into another Somalia?
Save the Date
My Meena Kumari biography is being late-launched on October 4 at the Habitat Centre. HarperCollins will serve pakodas and tea, some scenes and songs from the great tragedienne’s films will be screened and the programme will end with my authoritative account and dissection of the actress. It could be a seminal event in the history of Indian cinema! Seats limited.
I spent three hours in a TV studio, with just one loo break.
Vinod Mehta is editorial chairman, Outlook, and its founding editor-in-chief; E-mail your diarist: vmehta AT outlookindia.com
Who cares about these old boys network stories written by a bunch of thakela babus? I found it hard to spend even a few seconds there before flipping the pages. Thank god for Mr Mehta’s Delhi Diary.
Vinod Mehta’s (Delhi Diary, Oct 7) analysis of the Muzaffarnagar riots and the role of cynical politics in fanning the flames of communalism was brilliant. The SP and BJP are playing a dangerous game. They should be punished—both by voters and the courts.
The real culprits are the UP electorate who voted the SP to power! In democracy, people truly get the government they deserve.
G. Natrajan, Isere, France
First came R.K. Karanjia, then Khushwant Singh, and now Vinod Mehta. All in the same mould—blame it all on the RSS, Jan Sangh, and now the BJP. They will never talk about the Muslim menace, or about Congress hypocrisy.
S.S. Nagaraj, Bangalore
Mehta-Oyaji's** Delhi diary (DD) has its usual mix of political blah-blah and tabloid stuff, but nevertheless is the only readable piece in this issue of Outlook. DD has garnered more comments than all other articles combined and very understandably so. Who cares about "old-boys'-network" stories written by a bunch of "thakela" babus? Such mind-numbingly boring stuff that I found it hard to spend even a few microseconds on any of those. So kudos(!) to you Mr. Mehta - despite your humility and modesty - for leading from the front in this episode.
BTW, how are you going to fill the "Letters to the Editor" section for this issue of Outlook? :) And that Harvard article got no response at all (as of now) - looks like no Harvard alumnus among Outlook readership - "bechara" Outlook, kya haal bana rakkha hai?
** Oyaji is a nice Japanese word. So please don't remove my comment on a pre-emptive basis and better check with any of your Japanese friends. No need for concern, you'd be happy with the compliment.
39D - DL Narayanan,
I have heard about Russi, but not much read anything as I belong to Post Emergency generation. KS and VM we all know, KS is now old and near inactive and VM too one day will be replaced with another generation porn peddler who will sing hosannas to Rahul Gandhi and the kids of Priyanka Robert Vadra.
But the message is clear - the media folks are bought by free , high quality booze and free high quality flesh. The so called poltiical party of Mahatma Gandhi, quickly learnt this after 1947. Which is why, CON party has been ruling us 90% of time since independence.
If only BJP/RSS were smart and followed it we would not have seen MMS as PM post 2004...
144 D l Narayan sir,
Any way thank you, nostalgic
@ VNK Sir - "Blitz's Last page was K A Abbas prerogative"
Khwaja Ahmed Abbas shared the last page with the model of the week. While everyone looked at the last page, only some actually read "The Last Page".
D 263 D L Narayan sir
Blitz's Last page was K A Abbas prerogative.
Ofcourse RK was editor but this page reflected
none of his views. And ofcourse BLITZ was good.
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