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A sad day for Salman Khurshid and India media

Last updated on: October 15, 2012 14:26 IST

A sad day for Salman Khurshid and India media

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October 14 was a sad day for Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid and the India Today group, which owns a number of print journals and TV channels, says B Raman

A non-governmental humanitarian trust for assisting physically disadvantaged people with which Khurshid's wife Louise is reportedly associated has been the target of allegations of wrongful use of funds amounting to approximately Rs 80 lakh sanctioned by the government for humanitarian relief.

A Hindi TV channel of the India Today group and the India Against Corruption group headed by Arvind Kejriwal, a non-governmental activist, have been spearheading the campaign against Khurshid on these allegations against the humanitarian trust.

The two campaigns have been trying to project themselves as separate from each other without any orchestrated co-ordination, but an undeclared, but evident convergence of objective between the two is discernible to any objective observer.

That objective is to exploit the suspected misuse of the funds to cause public discomfiture to Khurshid.

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Image: Law Minister Salman Khurshid at the press conference in New Delhi
Photographs: Videograb

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The IAC's agenda against Khurshid is obvious. Khurshid as the law minister was in the forefront of a group of ministers of the Manmohan Singh government which had mounted a spirited public defence of Robert Vadra, the husband of Priyanka Gandhi and son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi, the Congress president, who has been accused by the IAC of accumulating huge wealth beyond his known sources of income.

The IAC is trying to use the allegations against the humanitarian trust for discrediting Khurshid and disabling him from defending Vadra. The agenda of the India Today group in its campaign is not clear to me.

A campaign whose objective should have been to ensure that public funds meant for humanitarian relief of the physically disadvantaged are properly used for their benefit has been submerged in an overall political campaign to weaken the credibility of the law minister and add to the public anger against the Congress and the government.

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Image: Arvind Kejriwal


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A sad day for Salman Khurshid and India media

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The allegations against the trust are very sensitive from the point of view of the likely impact on the public mind. Any allegation or suspicion that the physically challenged were sought to be exploited for individual financial benefit will go to the heart of any right-thinking person.

Khurshid is a highly-sophisticated minister and an individual with a sophisticated mind. He should have immediately realised the implications of the likely public impact of the allegations and taken action to establish the truth.

The proper course of action for him would have been to step aside from the post of law minister by either resigning or asking the prime minister to transfer the portfolio to another minister and to order an impartial inquiry into the allegations.

Instead Khurshid got involved in an unedifying and undignified slanging match with the IAC and India Today groups. His press conference on October 14, which was totally unnecessary, was a spectacle of outbursts of anger and intimidation unworthy of him.

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Image: Law Minister Salman Khurshid reacts at the press conference in New Delhi
Photographs: Videograb
Tags: IAC , India

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The equally unworthy behaviour of the IAC group is understandable because of the Kejriwal's political ambitions. What is not understandable is the unworthy and unprofessional behaviour of the India Today group in this controversy. One had never seen such media viciousness as one saw in the behaviour of this group.

A highly reputed and highly-admired journalist member of the India Today family kept disseminating gleeful tweets from the press conference about the discomfiture being caused to Khurshid and about the way he was making a spectacle of himself through his self-righteous outpourings.

In a brilliant article in the Hindustan Times on October 13, Barkha Dutt, group editor of NDTV, who is presently on a three-month fellowship to the Brown University of the United States to write a book, has drawn attention to the phenomenon and perceptions of bias in the conventional media and the counter-bias in the internet-based new media and social media networks.

Bias has always been there in Indian journalism since we became independent in 1947. This has become aggravated due to the growing polarisation of the Indian society. What is new is the growing viciousness in the Indian media.


Image: Law Minister Salman Khurshid at the press conference in New Delhi
Photographs: Videograb

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