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Updated: August 23, 2013 15:31 IST

Is electoral verdict everything?

A.S. Panneerselvan
Comment (41)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
The Hindu

There is a spike in the mails since the re-election of Narendra Modi and his supporters pitching him for the primeministership. At some level, all these letters share the opinion that one who has got the electoral approval is beyond criticism, and that this newspaper is not accepting the electoral verdict as the ultimate truth. They do not want to raise anything about the 2002 carnage, they do not like to hear anything that challenges the ‘Gujarat growth story’, and they feel that there is a design in the criticism against Narendra Modi. These letter writers are of the opinion that The Hindu had been unfair to Mr. Modi.

I am disturbed by the tone, tenor and the general thrust of these letters as they try to reconstruct India as a homogenous entity obliterating its multiplicities, its natural treasure called its diversities and heterogeneities. At one level, these voices say that they are not bothered about what the world thinks of them and cloak a form of xenophobia. On the other hand, they yearn for global acceptance. Let’s not forget that it was Mr. Modi who accepted the invitation from Wharton, an indication of the desire for global acceptance.

Let’s look at one of these letters closely. One of the writers Mr. K.H. Krishnan from Shenkottai contended, “every Indian did regret for Gujarat riots. But The Hindu still gives better preference to the Gujarat riots by publishing news or articles on this every now and then. And I am disappointed in your paper’s way of criticism against Mr. Modi even after his victory in the recent Assembly elections in Gujarat. I thought Hindu reporting will be impartial but now I am changing my stance.” He further takes exception to a report titled “Adani Group cancels Wharton sponsorship,” saying that the reporter had given details of criticism against Mr. Modi by a section of students and professors but did not elaborate on writer Chetan Bhagat’s twitter slamming of Wharton. He asks: “Is this not partiality?”

Where is partiality?

First, the decision to withdraw the invitation to Mr. Modi was taken by Wharton and not The Hindu. The decision deserves to be known to the people of India, and hence, the newspaper had to report on it. Second, the cancellation of sponsorship by Adani group raises an interesting question about the relationship between the political leadership of the state and the business even in a liberalised economy. Third, the paper’s reporter has faithfully reproduced Chetan Bhagat’s twitter criticism of Wharton. Where is the question of partiality? Further, Bhagat’s tweet was: “Dear Wharton, the country you belong to routinely makes friends with dictators and military governments who used guns to be in power. Remember that.” On the other hand, the academic team of Wharton had issued a formal statement that was reported. As long as people are going to raise questions about justice for the 2002 carnage, the paper has no other alternative but to report on it.

Electoral victory alone can never be construed as a closure for any wrong doings in our constitutional framework. Nor is it acceptable in our own ethical framework. Let’s take the case of UPA. This paper has been critical of its various failures since it came to power in 2004. The UPA won the people’s mandate once again in 2009. Does it mean that the paper should not raise the shortcomings and the failures and dereliction of duties in its first term? Then how does one cover the issues relating to the 2G controversy, CWG scam, Adarsh Housing scandal and other issues?

Balanced criticism

Let’s look at two specific cases where the people’s verdict has not stopped either the legal procedures or the public criticism. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa is facing legal proceedings in the disproportionate wealth case in a court in Karnataka. The period covered by this case pertains to her tenure between 1991 and 1996. Since then, she has won two more general elections. She is not invoking the people’s verdict but facing the case legally. Former Union Minister for Communications A. Raja has been winning elections without a break since 1996. This is his fifth successive term in the Lok Sabha. This paper did not confound or conflate issues but consciously disaggregated them.

In my opinion, as long as this newspaper manages to offer a balanced criticism of every political party across the political spectrum — be it Left, Right or Centre — then it is doing a good job. It cannot make an exception for Mr. Modi.

readerseditor@thehindu.co.in

The Hindu Newspaper has finally got it right. The Hindu's views may be contrarian, but that does not imply bias or prejudice. The views espousing Modi are so jingoistic, and only this monolithical view should be acceptable. That is fascism, plain and simply.

The elected process is deeply flawed in India; the intent of one man, one vote has no meaning. Indians vote on caste, tribe and religious lines and India's parliament is a distorted view of proportional voting. One such vote bank in India is the jingoistic right wing politics ; that espouses ideology of revenge and hate of one community over the other.

Hitler was also duly elected. His economic achievements were the envy of Europe. And recently the "elected" President of Kenya has been indicted for war crimes. Our parliament is half filled with rapists and thugs. That's ok, then?

The fact the Indian Judiciary has not indicted members of the BJP/VHP s a fig leaf defense when the Indian Judiciary is down right incompetent.

from:  sathyavrath
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 17:24 IST

I have been quietly observing all the developments regarding Narendra Modi among people, media and politics..one thing that strikes to me at instant is..there is huge group of people backing up and supporting Modi for all the achievements and development he has brought about in Gujarat, and there is also a small group of people who are strongly trying to drag Modi down using the rope called Godhra riots...i am not sure if Modi conducted or organized the riots(as it seems from the opposition to modi)...but i am certain of one thing, "People want to see our country developed, people want to move forward, take it all to an all new hieght" And as i see, the hunger for development is far greater than sad memories of the past..in Modi people have hope..he has emerged as a ray of light in a room of long lasting darkness..people are not ready to lose this ray even "IF" the ray of light is coming from a very distant funeral

from:  amith nayak
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 14:39 IST

Weather its 1984 or 2002. Simple facts are people died by design. This
is not possible without involvement of state actors. In an ideal
scenario, all state actors responsible for this should have been
punished. Its unfortunate for us, the citizens of this country, that
the cases have been never ending in one and there is not a case in
another. The failure of government to protect lives should always be
reported. The person running the government always has enough
resources at hand to stop incidents like 1984 or 2002. If the state
resources have not been used efficiently to save lives, no amount of
electoral victories will wash away the wrong doings of past. The
media, as a fourth estate, should not allow people to forget the past.

from:  Karthik
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 14:31 IST

I started reading The Hindu ever since it started a satelite edition in New Delhi. Since then, I read The Hindu only even though I have shifted from Delhi. Of late, I see a lot of changes in The Hindu's way of reporting, publishing of opinions, etc., and I fail to understand the reasons. The excessive reporting about Narendra Modi, Afzal Guru's execution, etc., are some examples. The last thing I wanted to read in The Hindu was the article by Justice Katju about Narendra Modi. Justice Katju is holding a Quasi-Judicial office and it was not at all proper on his part to have written the article and The Hindu to have published it. I would have had no objection if such an article was written by a seasoned journalist like H.Khare, P.Swami, et al. Repeated publishing of articles by the human right activists about Afzal Guru's execution will only help in increasing the communal hatred which is already prevalent in India. I wish to read The Hindu of 1980-1990s and not the present.

from:  Kannan R
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 14:19 IST

Needless to say the party in office has made a mess of the country and lost the values and respect of the people. Any amount of propaganda would not fix that problem and any talk on secularism will only fall in deaf ears. No Government can govern against the majority of people to please some minorities in the name of secularism. So long that injustice is widely perceived in the community, someone will call a spade a spade. There may be romantics and apologists with blatant denial in their mind would want to support dynasties, fully knowing it is an anti-democratic institution. Modi may have had certain alleged lose of control in his State and people have every right to question his mismanagement of the event.

from:  Saratchandran
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 11:30 IST

So what if this newspaper is publishing articles which are anti-modi. Isn't that a right of every individual to voice their opinion in a democracy? why are pro-modi supporters so enraged if there is even something remotely adverse about their political leader. when people compare about 1984 pogrom and 2002 riots, do people forget that there was media blackout in 1984, it was like emergency, no scribe was allowed to report that. when every one agrees that it is horrific and unpardonable, how come something like that was allowed to happen in the digital age? So what ever a a party head does is that okay?

from:  T.M.Joseph
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 10:36 IST

Dear Editor, even you are a human and I know it`s very difficult to keep emotions out of bussiness particularly in this part of world.

from:  Ashish
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 08:16 IST

Dear Sir,
I tend to agree with the tone and sentiment that Mr. Sandip has
expressed in his note in this column. You seem to be taking a nuanced
view against Modi when it is not justified at all. His development
record is something that can be verified easily enough, right? Also,
if you look at the people who have sponsored the disinvitation by
Wharton (Ania Loomba, Toorje Ghose, et.al), they are all well known to
be left leaning/communist intellectuals who think their argument alone
is above everyone else.

from:  Krishna Kumar
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 05:36 IST

How many times has the Hindu published about Nandigam riots and the
responsibility? The paper has forgotten the same
completely. Is this not bias.

from:  Ramaswamy
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 00:05 IST

In fourth line of your article says "this newspaper is not accepting the
electoral verdict as the ultimate truth", i agree with that. But, are
you going to accept the propaganda as an alternative to truth. The
verdict which comes out of rule of law should be accepted not from self
proclaimed bloggers.

from:  Vineet Kumar Singh
Posted on: Mar 12, 2013 at 23:42 IST

I would like to congratulate The Hindu for its clear, unbiased and Courageous Journalism.

from:  Ayaz
Posted on: Mar 12, 2013 at 23:24 IST

Agreed; you don't have to take electoral success to mean that
governments are beyond criticism. But has any court ruled that Modi is
responsible for the 2002 riots? Till then, how can Hindu take such a
stance? I feel equally disturbed by the tone, tenor and the general
thrust of your anti-Modi stance. You can always criticize what Modi has
done, but you can't criticize what you think he has done! That's not
journalism, that's blogging!!

from:  sandip
Posted on: Mar 12, 2013 at 17:35 IST

The opinion letters clearly indicate the perception among readers that
the Hindu is taking sides when presenting Modi's case. When presenting
Modi's achievements, the tone is generally sarcastic or dismissive.

from:  Giridharan
Posted on: Mar 12, 2013 at 16:10 IST

Not surprising that even on an article concerning the hate-letters sent by Modi enthusiasts we see hate comments by them.Many commenters here tend to compare the Gujarat pogroms with anti-Sikh Pogroms. Yes '84 pogroms were at least as much despicable as the 2002 pogroms. But the sharp contrast between the two is that in one of these 2 cases, the Culprit party and its leaders have apologized publicly to the victim community,managed to win 2-3 state elections in a state dominated by the victim community and most importantly made one of the members of that victim community country's PM(twice).In the other case,the alleged mass murderer and his party have not even expressed regret at whatever transpired in 2002.Congress is corrupt,no doubt about that and The Hindu has on multiple occasions carried long investigative articles about Congress' scandals. The problem with the Modi supporters is that they are insecure and thus see even slightest criticism as a conspiracy to defame their Master.

from:  Shahid
Posted on: Mar 12, 2013 at 14:44 IST

The Hindu is doing a terrific job when it comes to portraying our
leaders, whether it is Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi. People who
claim The Hindu to be biased towards Modi seems to have very little
knowledge about the subject. The responsibility of The Hindu to give
a clear picture of Narendra Modi is higher now than ever before as he
is one of the prime contestant for the supreme position of this
country. If we make a clear observations, all the hype given to Modi
are from his and BJP fan-boys and the big business tycoons who have
got favors from him. People of this country should know that Gujarat
model is not the best and not the one to be replicated. The Hindu has
provided complete bias free coverage on Narendra Modi and it should
continue to do so to help the citizens of this country to decide
their fortune.

from:  Naveen
Posted on: Mar 12, 2013 at 11:26 IST

I would like to congratulate The Hindu for always finding negative for Mr. Modi.

from:  Santosh
Posted on: Mar 12, 2013 at 11:19 IST

I think I am witnessing a classic case where ends are just justifying
means. During my 10th standard when I was reading about Nazism and
Fascism and the related despondency, mostly economic, I was wondering
that why the civil society never opposed them. Then and even now,
people are interested in moving to greater 'Golden Dream' than of
following the means.
I frankly don't understand this hoopla of 'how the world looks at
India'. Nobody cared for you until unless you had a great purchasing
power and that shouldn't be the only criteria. Be it yesterday, today
or tomorrow, means as well as ends will continue to matter and those
who ignore this basic fact-suffers in the long run.
No amount of exaggeration and hullabaloo can do anything about it.

from:  Mohd Afzal
Posted on: Mar 12, 2013 at 10:20 IST

Sir,
You can give any number of clarification but the thing is that though i
m not a modi supporter but even a person like me felt that your
newspaper is "Biased" against narendra modi.............and this in
reality is the matter of serious concern ..you surely have right to your opinion but then
you must not say that yours is a neutral newspaper.

from:  sahil
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 17:33 IST

a sensible and diligent explanation, and also at a good time.

from:  anuapm swain
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 17:24 IST

Dear sir,

Elections do not mean everything; neither does development; nor does
Supreme Court verdict. So it is only the media (Khap Panchayat or
Katta Panchayat) that decides. Hail the fourth pillar of democracy.
If people take to the streets asking for certain legislations it is
wrong; any verdict not to the liking of the media is also wrong;
people who may have filed false affidavits in Supreme Court and
reprimanded by the Court still get space in the media; Hail the
fourth pillar. Remember that unless we present a united force as
India no foreign power will respect Indians in any sphere. Media has
a responsibility towards that. Quarrels must be kept within our
borders.
However, unpleasant, I think the Reader's editor will do well to read
the Terms of engagement, I believe the role is somewhat misconstrued
as being Editor's Editor. Not so the case.

from:  K.Ravishankar
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 16:19 IST

I think The Hindu has been quite balanced in its coverage of all politics, not just about Mr. Modi. There is also no need for either The Hindu or for anyone else to feel concerned about the criticism from Modi fans. This is because firstly, these Modi fans are usually right wing, sometimes quite extremely so, and a certain viciousness and lack of tolerance comes with that leaning. Secondly, they also suffer from a strong inferiority complex and that is what makes their hackles rise to any criticism. They deserve no more than to be ignored.
I wish the Hindu continues its manner of reporting on Modi or on politics in general, remaining as it always has been, a true liberal voice of sense, sensibility and secularism.

from:  Rajeev Iyer
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 16:16 IST

I always trusted Hindu on dispassionate coverage and providing
balanced perspective on issues of national interest. However, in case
of Narendra Modi the coverage has been always on the negative. His
governance of Gujarat needs far objective coverage and analysis, than
harping on just malnutrition. we as readers expect better form your
newspaper. On another note, other than P Sainath has any other
journalist from this newspaper focused objectively on the Maharastra
drought to which state government has turned a blind eye ? Why this
constant negative coverage of Narendra Modi ?

from:  Ananth
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 14:36 IST

Ok. So that is clear you clearly don't regard electoral success into much regard. But do you take supreme court as a supreme body of law or not because acc. to that court 2002 carnage cannot be attributed to Mr. Modi and he does not stand accused. Are you accusing supreme court too of 2002 carnage of being hand in gloves with Mr. Modi? If yes please state clearly. But it is shocking is how you clearly evade around the issue of sikh carnage in 1984 in which no hindu got killed while in 2002 carnage many hindus died in police firing. So that shows congress is itself efficient in one thing that is how to stage riots. BRAVO!

from:  Mir aslam
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 14:15 IST

I fully agree with the reader's editor. The Hindu has been impartial in its reportage and editorials. People who aggressive campaign for Modi are impatient with any kind of criticism to the extent of making him a cult figure and an icon of development as if anything or anyone adverse to him is ominous. In fact, their intolerant attitude towards any balance debate is undemocratic. Justice and judicial system could not be made subservient to electoral verdicts; mistakes of governments could be glossed over in subsequent good governance but alleged crimes could not be put in the same category.

from:  Dr.Swami D Francis
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 13:58 IST

The Hindu has got it right. An electoral victory is not a clean chit for all the past wrongs. Elections and by definition democracy, are just a number game, a primitive instinct in humans as well as animals. An election victory means more people of those who voted, voted for you or your party. That excludes the ones you killed. Anyway, Modi, if he fights the 2014 election will get only one seat. It is upto his parliamentary party to nominate him for the PM post. For him to get there, there are lots of hurdles yet. Will his party get an absolute majority? If not, will the coalition accept him as the PM? Finally, even if he becomes the PM in a coalition, will he be able to synchronise with the parliamentary coalition partners. Short of over all BJP majority, Modi will be a quick failure, unable to get his own way, he will react the best way he can, by showing his anger and eventually be thrown out. He is no Vajpayee or Manmohan Singh.

from:  Manjit Sahota
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 13:23 IST

May I add that The Hindu is unwittingly creating a "religious" divide between its readers by going overboard with Modi? The comments columns would reveal that. We wish the politics of our country has nothing to do with any religion. If you could just carry a few articles explaining that secularism means the isolation of public activity from religion, you would be doing a great service to the public (and politicians too) who unfortunately tend to equate secularism with "respect for all religions."

from:  luhar sen
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 13:09 IST

I'm afraid the real reason behind those mails was a disproportionate criticism of Modi... The fact that 68 pilgrims were burnt to death has been given a short shrift. Other outrages perpetuated by the minority communities (e.g. severing Professor's hand in Kerala, Owaisi's vitriolic speech to name a few) aren't given the same weight in your newspapers. Most of the times these are simply mentioned in passing without any critical analysis/comment - something reserved for any small outrageous act (Valentine day celebration rampages etc.) the Hindu right-wingers.

from:  Milind
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 13:08 IST


how many articles do you entertain in your newspaper that cast aspersions on the Congress, and so frequently at that? Your criticisms of the Congress/UPA are limited and related to scams that grew too big to stay away from the public eye anymore. At best, they are limited to a general meek critique of the party, and is not a singling out of a person, as is the case with Modi. How many freelancers have contributed in your newspaper's columns condemning the 1984 Sikh carnage or terrorist activities perpetrated by Islamist outfits in our country? Every second day, your newspaper dishes out some Modi/BJP-bashing article, either by a reporter or a freelancer. Why should Modi attract so much attention by your newspaper above others? Is it then not normal for your long-time readers, in the name of objectivity, to question your intentions?

from:  luhar sen
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 12:55 IST

This statement by the Readers' Editor is a slap on the face of these
RSS influenced letter writers who are blind in supporting Modi. I wonder what significant development has this "modern
day Nero" Modi has done to Gujarat and what will be his for the nation
at large? His lopsided development coupled with a high dose of
patronage for Corporates is all there for everyone of us to see.
Despite all these shortcomings, there can be no reason except for the
fact that this support emanates through RSS and its saffron brigades.
The hindutva lab is cunningly crafting its support base in the
disguise of these letter writers who are seeking for a whitewash and
thus legitimise his stay. You have hit the nail on the head.

from:  M.S.Chagla
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 12:16 IST

Electoral victory ceratinly does not abslove leaders of crimes if any. In Modi's case the charges that Gujarat is polarized, Muslims live in fear, development is not "inclusive" etc have lost its sheen through his electoral victory.
It is a fact that both Modi Fans as well as Modi baiters are equally hawkish and lose their sense of balance while espousing their stand.

from:  Ramachandran
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 12:04 IST

A very good response from The Hindu. If winning elections means that a party or its leader is above critism - then we will
never be able to criticise the Congress Party or leaders from the Nehru-Gandhi family - as they enjoy the highest success rate
in Independent India's electoral politics.Using the same argument, we cannot criticise the left parties in West Bengal, as they
held sway over that State for well over 3 decades !
It appears that the supporters of Mr.Modi are intolerant to any criticism of their much hyped leader and are ready to blame anyone
be it your newspaper or Mr.Katju or anyone who criticises him.
It is heartening to see you newspaper analysing leaders and issues on their own merit without being swayed by electoral
success or social media /corporate support.

from:  Hariharan
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 11:00 IST

Nicely put. To add to it- Supreme Court in one of the cases has opined
that people's verdict(which is temporary for 5 years)is not supreme but
the constitution(which is everlasting) is supreme. This supports the
point that people's verdict cannot be held as everything and
exonerating.

from:  Veeresh
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 10:58 IST

Nicely Put. One more point to add- SC has in one case opined that the
people's verdict(which is temporary for 5 years) is not supreme but the
constitution is supreme(which is everlasting). This supports the point
that electoral verdict can't be taken as everything and exonerating.

from:  Veeresh
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 10:51 IST

Ever Since I started reading The Hindu, I like its neutral editorials
and its reporting of news, a most trusted English newspaper for me.
But this time, in Mr Modi's case,who is the PM candidate,I am also
feeling differently.
The Hindu is definitely doing under-coverage, everytime i want to read
something what THE HINDU is reporting about Mr Modi, or the opinions
The Hindu is publishing about a PM candidate of our country, I get
only little to read.
I remember, before Gujrat elections, there hardly was any reporting on
Mr Modi. And now after elections, the articles are rather more on
critical side.
I am fed up of reading about 2002 riots, I want to know whether Gujrat development, or Gujrat's model is like that only, as claimed by Mr
Modi, is that true? But i find only limited articles.

from:  Rajat Gupta
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 10:32 IST

Modi's crimes against humanity cannot be compared with corruption crimes as they are more serious which cannot be described in words. One wonders why the BJP except the former Prime Minister Mr. Vajpayee did not condemn it and is giving importance to him as if BJP is Modi and Modi is BJP.

Modi's crimes cannot be washed away with his electoral victory. He is a liability not an asset to the BJP.

The Hindu is well known for its excellent editorial comments.

from:  VMK
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 07:00 IST

I think you are hiding behind your "fair and balanced" stance and yet managed to undermine the great contribution that Narendra Modi has made for Gujarat. Your articles are "technically sound" but surely feels "hollow in credibility" to users. As a journalist your arguments should be technically correct as well as sounding credible to reader. Fact that you had to clarify your stance as a journalistic organization reduces your credibility even more!!! I think it is time for Hindu to do some introspection privately.

from:  Rajiv Patel
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 06:47 IST

You seem to have short memory regarding Sikh carnage by Congress where 4 times more people died. Is it because you support congress ?

from:  prana
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 06:19 IST

The real cause for concern is India still confused about getting itself extricated from the clutches of the 'family' politics rule which is the root cause of all problems -corruption being number in the list. the earlier the end to family dynasty rule is found the better. Modi is obviously the right choice and if certain media chooses not to see the reason to support him so be it.

from:  sivakumar
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 05:57 IST

if that is o k for sonia and congress why not for Modi and bjp Let us not blacken the white paper in expression of envy due to his popularity and performance

from:  veera
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 05:30 IST

There seems to be a slight difference here between some politicians with
skeletons in the cupboard getting re-elected and Modi getting re-elected.
Has he not been cleared by the highest court of having had a hand in the
anti-Muslim riots of 2002? Impartiality would call for recognizing this
difference even if minor.

from:  schar
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 04:48 IST

Interesting stance taken by the author. But the perception in general
public who read your articles is that of a motivated witch-hunt of Mr.
Modi, carried out by a cross section of the media.

I have not seen such a deluge of articles supporting/criticizing Mr.
Modi before his Feb speech at SRCC. The 500+ page report of the
Supreme Court appointed SIT has gone through the accusations against
Modi in detail and there is no ground, under which the courts can even
make him stand trial, let alone convict him.
Where is your legal justification for all the criticism that you heap
on the Gujrat CM? Most of the statements in the media seem to be
hearsay rather than facts.
Reporting should be facts only, why is it colored with the authors
bias/opinions? Don't we have Editorials/Opinion pieces for the same?

from:  Shekhar
Posted on: Mar 11, 2013 at 03:53 IST
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