The whole drama was played out so beautifully, that the common man in Mumbai forgot all his fears of coronavirus, hunger and lack of employment.
It is popularly said that politics is dirty and makes for strange bedfellows. The current case in point being Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.
On June 14, 2020, Sushant Singh is said to have killed himself in his Bandra house. Mumbai Police swung into action immediately, but by the end of the day, many conspiracy theories were in circulation, thanks to the University of WhatsApp. By the end of that night, theories and conspiracies had gone viral all over social media. The issue of nepotism once again came to fore, to the extent that those journalists and media outlets thriving on nepotism slammed it. I will not dwell on it here, except to note that the human race thrives on nepotism – as humans began to settle down, they were initiated into jobs. Also, nepotism exists in varied forms in every sector.
To move on, after all the vitriol and bad-mouthing on social media, when the parties were called, nobody gave evidence or spoke against the other. Meanwhile, Mumbai Police went about doing their job of investigating. They did the spot panchnama, sent the body for post mortem, sent viscera samples and recorded the statements of those witnesses who were said to be close to Sushant. Most importantly, the statements of his family, girlfriend and therapists were recorded.
All these statements recorded by police indicate death by suicide since he was suffering from depression. But then began the game playing. As elections in Bihar were announced, dirty politics came into play. The number of Covid cases and deaths have been on the rise day after day, the economy is on the downslide, people have been losing jobs with slim prospects of re-employment. So voila, the Information Technology cell of the Bharatiya Janata Party went into overdrive, like always.
The efficiency and integrity of Mumbai Police was questioned until finally, the Supreme Court has asked Mumbai Police to hand over all evidence to the CBI. Videos of ‘experts’ and people said to be close to Sushant have been circulating. A sinister murder plot was suggested, among other things. The point is, the creators of these posts did not think twice before stooping to paint the deceased as a puppet. Clearly, it was okay in their book to speak ill of the dead.
Right now, we do not know who managed to introduce the narrative of the distraught family members, who have been unable to come to terms with the ultimate truth. Sadly, Mumbai Police, who have gone by the rule book and evidence, are seeming like they are ‘under political pressure’ from the MVA government.
Even before and more so during the Covid outbreak, it has been evident the BJP has been gunning for the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government. The larger plan of the BJP to become the single largest party to rule the whole nation has failed in a few states, like Maharashtra. Devendra Fadnavis, the sitting chief minister, lost the chance to re-usher in a BJP government and usually, political parties reprimand such leaders. Even his attempt to get Ajit Pawar to break away from the NCP flopped badly. Fadnavis is now the Leader of Opposition and that is something neither he, nor the BJP have taken too well.
Sushant was a Bihari and therein lies the clue to the political plot. In fact, it makes one wonder whether Indian politicians will ever spare any human, living or dead, to achieve their ends.
Meanwhile, the MVA government led by the Shiv Sena has been put in a tight corner due to the latter’s strong anti-Uttar Pradesh and anti-Bihari ideology. Everything wrong in this city– be it taking jobs from locals, unhygienic conditions, growing slums, crime, malaria, everything has been blamed on Biharis by the Sena. The BJP think tank and IT realised this sentiment could be turned against the Sena. Killing two birds with one stone—make their government unstable and turn the mood in their favour in Bihar. More than anti-MVA, the BJP wants to target its former alliance partner, the Sena. Their split has been acrimonious, one that would put Brangelina to shame. And the Sena would have never thought in its wildest dreams that its anti-Bihari ideology would come back to haunt it. Even though the MVA is a three-party government, including the Nationalist Congress Party and Congress, the only refrain we are hearing is the involvement of state tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray and son of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
In the meantime, videos on social media by people ‘close’ to Sushant have begun to circulate. Sushant’s brother-in-law, OP Singh, a senior police officer, was made to visit Mumbai, after a phone call to Nitish Kumar, the Bihar CM. This soon turned out to be a case of three states, Maharashtra, Bihar and Haryana. Deputy Commissioner of Police Paramjit Singh Dahiya did say, Singh asked him to pressurise the actor’s girlfriend, Rhea Chakraborty and deal with her the way police do. This was amidst the growing chorus for a CBI probe. Nitish Kumar, who was said to be unsure initially, demanded a CBI probe after coming under pressure. (NDTV). The Bihar government also began a parallel investigation into Sushant’s death and even sent an IPS officer, Vinay Tiwari on August 2, to Mumbai.
The Congress by then realised the political underplay and asked Nitish to read the Constitution before making this demand. Also, by then the Sena activated the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to take the IPS officer into quarantine since he had travelled by air. The whole drama was played out so beautifully, that the common man in Mumbai forgot all his fears of coronavirus, hunger and lack of employment. The elite are convinced of a huge political cover-up since the ‘Dolphin’ had a major role to play in this sinister plot.
Dolphin being the term for Aaditya. Now one can call this young politician ‘stupid’, who, like many Indians, is undeniably star-struck and loves to hang out with them. Though he did issue a clarification, many feel he should have taken those accusing him of plotting to the cleaners. The problem with the functioning of the Sena party is that everything is centralised in the Thackeray family. It is obvious the BJP is hitting at the weak spot of Uddhav, his son, who is being groomed for bigger things. The BJP promptly began demanding his and Uddhav’s resignation and yet nobody can see through this plot.
It is said everyone has a weak spot and when it is not even camouflaged, it is easy for the BJP to simply target Aaditya. With Aaditya being targeted, the Sena and its spokesperson have gone into aggressor mode. They still act like ruffians, unlike their vicious, slimy former alliance partner. Sanjay Raut has gone on to claim that Sushant’s father had re-married, which led to Sushant being frustrated and eventually taking his own life. But obviously, this too boomeranged. Hence, now, any defence is going to seem like a cover-up, while most believe best to keep quiet and let the police do their job.
Change of Narrative
The only topic that has dominated public discourse sadly is the death of Sushant. One can only wish people would give more or as much thought to why the government is downplaying the Corona numbers, not that this phenomenon is restricted to India. Videos are still being circulated with some convincing rants by ‘Bihari’ colleagues and friends of Sushant. I really wonder how people fall prey to conspiracy theories without pausing for a minute to think if this were to happen to any of their close relatives how would they have reacted. A few days prior to Sushant’s death, his manager, Disha Salian had died by suicide on June 8.
Sadly, women too began circulating videos in which all sorts of allegations were being made against the deceased Disha. It has been distressing for her family and her father was forced to file a complaint against some insensitive news channels, which obviously have been asked to follow the narrative that Sushant was killed and link the two suicides.
While these few channels played out scenes, in the process they revealed Rhea Chakraborty’s cell phone number, declared her as the main accused and murderer; for over a month now, Sushant’s death has been declared a murder, with Rhea as the main accused. All journalistic ethics have been thrown to the winds. Suddenly Mumbai Police is an unreliable force and even Fadnavis’s wife criticised them and claimed she felt unsafe and Bihar Police were doing a fine job. By now, it is rather evident there is a big game being played; then came the announcement of Fadnavis being given charge of Bihar elections.
Hardly rocket science for a reasonably intelligent person of sound mind to connect the dots. However, the public continues to believe Sushant was killed. Nobody seems to mind that a dead man’s case is dominating public and Indian political discourse, with even the judiciary falling in line now. Sadly, the two top leaders of this country have turned the tide in their favour. The initial anger brought by their negligence in handling the issues of migrant labourers–many who died of hunger and many more when trying to reach their homes from various parts of the country, has now been relegated to the distant past. A huge number of migrant workers are from Bihar. Many were heard shouting slogans against Nitish and the BJP and pledged not to vote for them, as they were let down. Just see how they have changed the political and electoral agenda. Sadly, the educated and privileged persist in their prismatic view and fail to see the plight of the poor in our country.
Neeta Kolhatkar is a senior journalist with over 30 years of work experience across different media platforms. She is currently a freelancer and media consultant.
(Views Expressed Are Personal)