Off the record

Off the record

The plain truth

A day after the Press Council of India (PCI) chairman Justice Markandey Katju blasted Nitish regime for imposing an unwritten censorship on media in Bihar, the ruling party JD(U) has strongly reacted to the former Supreme Court judge’s observation.

“If some one asks me what one lesson I would like to learn from Katju, I would say: ‘How to remain in the news’. This retired judge of the apex court knows how to hog the limelight by giving statements which could make front-page headlines,” said JD(U) national general secretary and Rajya Sabha member Shivanand Tiwary.

“Even when he was a judge, he once made a sweeping remark that those charged with corruption should be hanged (from the lamp post)… and it was carried in all newspapers on page one,” Tiwary continued with his tirade against the PCI chief. A day back, Katju had decried Nitish regime for gag on media and said, “The media in Bihar is not free to write against the State Government. ”

Katju, known for calling a spade a spade, got expected support from Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan. “For the last six years, we have been saying that the media in Bihar has not been allowed to highlight Nitish Government’s act of omission and commission. And today we stand vindicated,” said Paswan.

Notwithstanding the support and criticism, the PCI chief went on to issue a veiled threat to Nitish. “Denial of freedom of speech and expression is a violation of fundamental right. And I want to tell the Nitish government that it has to function within the purview of the Constitution. Nahin toh main iss sarkar ko chalne nahin doonga (Or else, I won’t allow this government to function),” he made a clean breast.

Nitish refrained from joining the issue. “It’s not necessary that I should give my reaction on every subject,” he averred.
Abhay Kumar, Patna

Tech-savvy comrades

The Left parties had initially opposed even computerisation of bank operations, fearing it will cut jobs. They now see the logic of new technology as relentless as Hegel’s dialectical logic, which their ideological ‘Guru’ Karl Marx took over to apply to classes.

During the just concluded 20th state conference of the CPI(M)’s Tamil Nadu committee in the Cauvery’s tail-end area of Nagapattinam, the party’s General Secretary Prakash Karat was visibly enthralled as he launched the ‘e-paper’ of ‘’Theekkathir’, the party’s organ in Tamil. Just log on to ‘’, and the Paper ‘e-unfolds to be e-read’!

At the grand four-day conclave, while Karat congratulated the software engineer Kanakavelu for elegantly designing the party’s new ‘e-paper’ in Tamil, the move is also tactical as thousands of students in Tamil Nadu are to get free laptops from ‘Puratchi Thalaiv’ J Jayalalithaa’s regime in phases.

But politically though, amid some very important resolutions adopted at the State conference, the CPI(M) is moving away from ‘Amma’, as the party’s unanimously re-elected State Secretary, Com G Ramakrishnan, announced that the Marxists will back actor Vijayakant’s DMDK in the coming March 18 Assembly bye-poll from Sankarankovil in the State. The Marxists’ passion for a ‘third front’ is still vigorous, though only ‘Time’, going again by the inexorable Hegelian logic, can tell about its efficacy.
M R Venkatesh, Chennai

Slip of tongue

Congress leaders are on their way to a make a record of slip the tongue. After Salman Khurshid and Beni Prasad Verma, the most recent addition in the list is Shri Prakash Jaisawal. On polling day in the fourth phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, he threatened voters that if the Congress did not come out winner, there would not be any option other than President’s rule.

Some people interpreted it as a symptom of nervousness on the part of the Congress and others thought it to be a ploy to change the voting pattern. “I do not think this is a simple case of slip of the tongue. It is certainly a case of deliberate expression,” said a political observer. “What might be the reason? Khurshid did it to win over Muslim votes. Beni Prasad also did it to have some effect on voters. However, Jaisawal does not have such a purpose; on the contrary his statement may lead to loss of votes,” said another observer.

“He may not be trying to win over voters. This is not the language to win voters. He, at best, is trying to impress his party boss Sonia Gandhi,” was another observation.

Apparently, Jaisawal looks to be  desperate to be noticed by his party boss and even ready to do hara-kiri if it does not lead to the target because if it does not go well with the party high-command he may have to lose the grace. Many in the Congress have been habitual offenders when it comes to slipping their tongue, but they have been favourites of the high-command.
Anil Sinha, New Delhi