Last year, he was the BJP's darling. Today, Arnab Goswami is a hated figure for the Modi bhakts. What changed?
Syed Firdaus Ashraf on how the BJP's Internet trolls strangle dissent.
What is the job of a journalist?
Ask questions and dig out the truth.
As any journalism school would teach, the cardinal rule while reporting is to answer the 5Ws and one H.
Bear with me for a minute while I build my argument. For the uninitiated, what are the five Ws and one H? They are: What, When, Where, Why, Who, and How. As in:
Who did it?
When did it take place?
Where did it take place?
Why did it happen?
How did it happen?
These are questions a journalist is expected to answer in her/his reports. But not, it seems, when you ask this of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
For if you dare raise these questions of any BJP leader involved in scams -- allegedly or otherwise -- you will surely be targeted by the party's Internet Mafia on every social media platform where they are present in large numbers.
Be it on Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp or on the message boards of Web sites, including ours.
I call them the BJP's Internet Mafia because they behave like the Mafia. The only difference being you won't find a horse's severed head in your bed nor will they pump bullets into you.
But hound you they will, relentlessly, on every social media platform if your views anger/irritate them.
Their brief is apparently simple. Denigrate the individual who questions wrongdoing by the Modi government or dares criticises the BJP.
Ever since #Lalitgate came into being, shortly after the Na Khaoonga, Na Khane Doonga government completed a year in office, media houses have been asking how the BJP could let External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj continue in office.
Was it not conflict of interest when she enabled IPL ex-commissioner Lalit Modi to travel out of Britain, when her daughter Bansuri Swaraj was one of Lalit Modi's lawyers?
Ditto with Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje. Call it a business deal or whatever name you give it, but the Times Now television channel has established that money was transferred from overseas by Lalit Modi to Raje's only child, Dushyant Singh, the Dholpur MP, and from him to his mother.
So a 'Bhagoda,' as the Congress party calls Lalit Modi, transfers funds to a BJP bigwig, but the party's Internet Mafia wants to showcase it as a business deal, nothing more.
I have only one question for the BJP's Internet Mafia. Why are Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje not coming out in the open and responding to the allegations against them?
Contrast their go-to-hell attitude with another BJP minister's. Only last week, allegations of ministerial wrongdoing surfaced in Maharashtra's 'Chikki scam' when BJP minister Pankaja Munde was in the dock for allegedly handing out contracts without going through the e-tender route.
Unlike her senior party colleagues, guess what Pankaja did?
Although she was in London on holiday, she readily granted media interviews, answered the allegations against her, posted links to her interviews on her personal blog, and issued a statement explaining her stance.
At this time it is not clear if there is in fact a Chikki scam or not, but at least Pankaja Munde is not running and hiding like Swaraj and Raje do.
Two weeks before International Yoga Day, Times Now and its anchor-in-chief Arnab Goswami supported the Modi government's yoga initiative and condemned Muslim clerics who opposed IYD in the name of religion.
Arnab ran a Twitter hashtag, #SayYesToYoga, endearing himself to the BJP's Internet Mafia.
Before last year's election, Arnab was a BJP favourite for hitting out hard against Pakistan, for exposing the Congress party's role in the CWG and 2G scams.
So what Arnab did last week was blasphemy for Modi's bhakts.
When he raised questions against Swaraj and Raje and dared to question Prime Minister Modi's silence, the hitherto darling of the Hindu Right instantly became a hate figure for them.
Terming the BJP bigwigs's refusal to resign as double standards, Arnab took the BJP to task for terming Manmohan Singh 'Maun Mohan Singh' over his silence at the UPA scams, but not saying anything when Narendra Modi was mum on the controveries involving Swaraj and Raje.
The BJP's Internet Mafia swiftly swung into action. #ArnabGate started to trend on Twitter, flooded by trolls who abused him non-stop.
One of the messages I received on my phone from them reveals how low the Internet Mafia can stoop: 'Arnab Goswami's son,' the message said, 'has tattooed Mera Baap SHOR Hai on his arm,' a takeoff on the line from Yash Chopra's film Deewar.
Another posted online: 'THE NATION WANTS KNOW WHY #ArnabGate is trending. What can I do if no one is resigning, I have screamed my best...Lol'
Resign is a word the Modi Sarkar don't have in its dictionaries. Even if BJP leaders are caught in wrongdoing the BJP's Internet Mafia is there to brazen it out and to convince the public that what was done was right.
Why resign when you can bluff and bluster your way through?
The BJP's Internet Mafia won't spare anyone, whosoever s/he may be.
Businessman Anand Mahindra got a taste of this when he expressed displeasure over the church attacks earlier this year. Confronted with online fire, Mahindra let the matter be.
Rishi Kapoor, a foodie if there was one, faced identical ire when he expressed his fondness for beef after it had been banned by the Maharashtra government.
All Rishi K said was, 'I am angry. Why do you equate food with religion?? I am a beef eating Hindu. Does that mean I am less God fearing than a non-eater? Think!!' The BJP's Internet Mafia thundered back with abuse.
Sab gaali aur khaffa ho gaye? Meri baat to sunte. Khair sabko block kar diya who abused me. Not fair to me, Hindu Sabha!! Correct them Plz' Rishi responded.
When the trolling wouldn't end, the movie star backed off, saying, 'Fed up, fed up! When did I say cow slaughter or gaumaas khata hoon. Ye aapne socha aisa maine naheen kaha. Do waqt ki puja karta hoon main'
BJP Margdarshak Mandal member and the man who first made the party relevant in the 1990s Lal Kishinchand Advani's statement of how he resigned as an MP when he was accused in the hawala scam, was not enough to move the Modi bhakts to contrite reflection.
Unfazed by Advani's veiled criticism, Prime Minister Modi addressed the nation for 23 minutes on his radio show, Man Ki Baat, June 28, but did not once mention the charges against Swaraj or Raje.
Which leads me to conclude that the BJP should rename itself the Besharam Janata Party.
For that is what it is. Besharam. Shameless.