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Dilemma of a Congress spokesman: Damned either way!

November 06, 2014 19:24 IST

It is, as a matter of fact, not the spokesman's 'responsibility' to answer questions pertaining to people who are not related to the party, says Odisha Congress leader V B Routray 

This Sunday, when I got out of the Congress party office to catch a taxi back home, a friendly face from a local newspaper walked up to me and asked, on the record, about Robert Vadra, his alleged misbehaviour and a possible probe in to the land deals he executed with DLF.

The reporter kept insisting that I answer and assured me that it would not be taken up as party's stand.

In the evening, I saw a tweet from his Twitter account claiming that a popular figure in the state Congress denied to speak on Robert Vadra.

It went on to explain how Damaad Ji was becoming a liability for the Congress Party and was making many uncomfortable.

Have we all been convinced yet of the fact that an ANI reporter barged in to a private event and questioned him in presence of his host, friends, family and associates about the alleged land scam that named him? At an event promoting the launch of a gym? Whatever followed later, be the commotion or the detainment, was perhaps uncalled for and maybe seen as an impulsive action liable to be reported.

Some notable television and print journalists fuelled the outrage on Twitter, trying to feed Congress spokespersons to the storm.

A section of the media posed a very fundamental question.

'How is the Congress party not accountable for Mr Robert Vadra's actions?' Another section posed another fundamental question -- 'Why are Congress spokespersons defending Mr Robert Vadra?"

As American evangelist Lorenzo Dow claimed, "You can and you can't. You shall and you shan't. You will and you won't. And you will be damned if you do. And you will be damned if you don't."

Amidst all these 'fundamental' questions, the audience lost the plot on day 1. What was supposed to be a case of arrogant behaviour, now bordered on 'suppression of free speech' and 'Congress party trying to shield the son-in-law'.

In August 2014, Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda's son Kartik Gowda was accused by a model-turned-actress of rape and cheating. The case, however, was found to be of bigamy &

cheating.

A week later, Union Chemical & Fertilizers Minister HN Ananth Kumar's wife Tejaswini was accused of being an accomplice in the Basaveshwar Vidya Vardhak Sangh money scam. The institute, located at Bidadi near Bangalore, comes under the Knowledge Park India Trust and operated with the Basaveshwara Veerashsiva Vidyavargaka Sangha in Bagalkot as per a deal worth Rs 24 crore.

The Bharatiya Janata Party and the NDA government rightfully shied away from 'officially' defending the alleged.

As a part of a concerted effort by key players in the media, both cases were given a lukewarm treatment and a mere speckle of dirt actually managed to get on the khadis of the ministers.

While the Congress president and vice-president do not enjoy such luxuries, there has been a visible stubbornness on part of ruling party strategists and their 'selfie-loving' associates to present the matter not as a case of unruliness and breach of laws of the land (like any other case not involving any son-in-laws), but as a case of 'Congress being rash with the media', 'Congress putting weight behind Robert Vadra' and 'Congress-sponsored arrogance for the son-in-law'.

The dilemma of any Party's spokespersons can be understood through the opening phrase of a soliloquy in the "Nunnery Scene" of William Shakespeare's play Hamlet.

'To be, or not to be, that is the question,
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer,
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take Arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them?'

In my capacity, I would end this piece by clarifying that, we (read: The Congress party) doesn't seek to defend an individual (guilty or alleged so) even if they happen to have family ties with party members.

It is also, as a matter of fact, not 'our responsibility' to answer questions pertaining to people who are not related to the party. Any statement from members on such issues have always come off as individual opinions arising out of personal observations and they on their own have always accounted for it.

Yes, we are serious. Pretty much.

The author is a member of the State Congress, Odisha.

Column Courtesy: The News Minute

V B Routray