Karan Thapar's Blunders'
14/07/2013 23:33:35 Dr. Vijaya Rajiva
This is not the first time that Karan Thapar of CNN-IBN has lost out when 'interrogating' (and yes that is the right word!) an opponent. Sometime ago he was bested in an interview with Dr. Subramanian Swamy on the controversy surrounding his remarks on minorities. A similar event took place when he interviewed Ravi Shankar Prasad (Modi is popular because of his governance, leadership qualities : Ravi Shankar Prasad' , July 14, 2013).
Karan's overall blunder was to draw knives (metaphorically speaking !) with a seasoned and brilliant lawyer like Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad. True, unlike Bhupendra Chaubey, Karan is sauve and has a way with words. When he started to get nasty in his comments on Shri Narendra Modi , he was driven back quickly by an alert opponent who questioned his motives and his agenda.
And indeed, it did look quite suspicious, coming so soon after Bhupendra Chaubey's ferocious attack about which the present writer has already written.
But let us give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that Karan was simply doing his journalist's job. He blundered badly on specifics. To start with, there was the by now familiar tirade against Shri Modi by the Congress and the mainstream media about his use of the analogy of the puppy falling under the car and how this would upset anyone. While Karan had the good sense to not pretend that Shri Modi was comparing Muslim victims of riots to puppies (as did his Congress compatriots) he did use the opportunity to point out that an aspiring leader of the country could have chosen better words. Not to make a fine point but did not Rajiv Gandhi say after the massacre of some 3,000 Sikhs in Delhi during the Congress watch, that when a big tree falls, the ground shakes (referring to the assasination of his mother Indira Gandhi by a Sikh and its aftermath) ? Be that as it may . . . .
But ofcourse, Karan's insinuations carried a touch of class bias. Narendra Modi, afterall, was from the backward castes and he had better mind his words. It is one thing for the grandson of Jawaharlal Nehru to use words carelessly, but surely not Mr. Modi.
Shri Prasad did not fall for this baiting. Neither probably did other objective viewers, especially Hindu viewers.
In the Hindu world view all creatures, great or small, are to be respected and the pain of any one of them is painful to a Hindu. Shri Modi was saying nothing new and Ravi Shankar Prasad presented this world view well also.
It is somewhat mystifying that Hindu journalists should make such blunders (of course Karan may not be a Hindu, or he may be one of those born again evangelists for whom the world was created for man's pleasure and enjoyment and the death of a puppy is nothing in the larger scheme of things; India now under the new dispensation is known to be one of the largest exporters of beef). Karan did not speak about his faith (whatever that might be) since that thought had not even crossed his mind, most likely, but his insensitivity to the feelings of Hindus is telling. Most Hindus listening to Mr. Modi speak about a puppy under a car, would have empathised with his analogy. And, it simply baffles them as to why this is considered inappropriate, especially when Shri Modi went on to say that the pain of any being is painful to him ; he may be a chief minister but he is a human being and feels for people's suffering.
Karan, let us repeat this point once more. Rajiv Pratap Rudy was right in saying that Modi was showing his compassion and his heart is childlike. En passant, Karan, do make a distinction between childlike and childish. Truly great people are childlike, whereas you remarked that the word 'childish' describes Mr. Modi's remark about puppies.
Now to the next blunder. Karan brought up the question of the 2002 riots and that in his interview Shri Modi had not admitted to any culpability. Ravi Shankar Prasad had no difficulty in demolishing Karan's ill prepared brief ! No need to go over this much traversed ground.
Worse and worse, Karan brought out what he thought was his invincible astram, the fake encounters. Here too, Prasad countered him point by point and more. . . . To compound his errors Karan mentioned that he had no less a person than Teesta Setalvad who had allegedly provided proof of the Supreme Court's displeasure with Mr. Modi. He had no documented proof to show the audience and Shri Prasad lost no time in taunting him with having consulted Teesta Setalwad as evidence. By now, the Indian public at large knows that she has been discredited for alleged bribery and perjury etc. and has wisely crawled back into the woodwork !
The Indian public knows this.
The interview ended with Karan repeating that he held to his view that Mr. Modi showed a poor choice of words, and furthermore had misled the Reuters reporter about his culpability in the Gujarat riots of 2002.
Shri Prasad (smilingly) : Modi is popular because of his governance and leadership qualities. Prasad had already pointed out in the interview that in the ten plus years since, there had been no communal riots in Gujarat and development and prosperity had become the norm for Gujarati society.
Good luck next time Karan ! And if you wish to keep up the witch hunt against Shri Modi, please use a better opponent next time, someone who is unable to stand up to your subtle (or not so subtle methods)!
(The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university).