'State of Mind' by Kumar Ketkar

Media and Modi, both have turned their back on Jashodaben

Since everything that is personal has become political now and everything that is private has become public, it would not be out of place to bring upfront what is generally ignored or utterly underplayed by the media. Even the otherwise hyperactive social media which goes wild about any real or fake news or rumour about the Nehru-Gandhi family, has been absolutely silent about our messianic Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s wife Jasodaben.

Last week she met with an accident, which could have been fatal, but except a few lines in stray newspapers, no media thought it was a news. In fact, most people don’t even know that Modi is married. Indeed, Modi and his celibate RSS partners maintained the myth for quite some time that he was a full-time bachelor Swayamsevak. Even in his election affidavits he never declared his marital status, till 2012, when he began to aspire for Prime Ministership. Even then, his status was known merely as “married”!

Those journalists who tried to find out who his wife was, were forcibly driven away. A Delhi based weekly magazine traced Jasodaben in a village, believed to be working as a schoolteacher. But before the correspondent left the village, her camera was taken away and was threatened and warned not to come there again. Since then, nobody has dared to take her interview or do a photo session or publish a bio-sketch of the lady.

The lady came to Mumbai about three years ago, in the famous Azad Maidan, with a placard protesting her neglect and even stating that she, despite being a wife of the Prime Minister, is facing insecurity. Within a couple of hours, she was whisked away by the police, from the Maidan, as if she had come there with a huge morcha!

There were a few reporters and even camera team of a channel. But not a single channel showed any visuals of her protesting nor did they carry a scroll, that no less than the PM’s wife was protesting and complaining about her insecurity. One newspaper did slightly dare and printed in deep inside pages a story about her visit and protest. But nothing about police whisking her away and not a word with her! Who were they afraid of? And why? Were the channels or papers apprehensive of getting booked for sedition or treason or espionage? Where were the champions of freedom-Arnab Goswami (then with Times Now) or other loud mouth anchors? And brave reporters?

One Gujarati newspaper did dare to carry an interview with her around that time, in which she said that she was constantly being followed by “security persons”, and yet they are less concerned with her safety. She fears, she said, she could be physically harmed. (Was the accident she met with was a “natural mishap”). Not only her existence is denied, by denying her even a passport and that too on the ground of her not having marriage certificate! She is not divorced (not even Hindu Talaq). Not physically challenged, nor bedridden and yet not invited even to the swearing-in ceremony of the Prime Minister. Her husband comes so many times to Gujarat, but never visits her, nor is anybody “allowed” to meet her.

Now let us imagine some counterfactuals and how media would have dealt with them. Imagine Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister deserting Sonia. Or Sonia neglecting her children. Or Robert Vadra throwing Priyanka out of the household. Or Priyanka walks out of the Vadra marriage. Rahul is not married (Thank God!!) but if he had and had ignored his wife or deserted her like the Hindu Iconic current Prime Minister! Night after night, our anchors would have followed the story raising the “fundamental” question of “Does the Nehru-Gandhi family know great and glorious Hindu traditions? Of how marriages are solemn and blessed in heaven. How a Christian mother cannot imbibe the profound Hindu “sanskaras” and the “original” Nehru was a “womaniser” and how his daughter was “promiscuous”.

Condemn Nehru-Gandhi family for everything, even after they are dead. But don’t question Narendra Modi even on straight facts. Nehru, Indira, Rajiv held frequent press conferences. Modi conducts “fixed” interviews or does “Man Ki Baat” every month but will not face media even once. He will address planned public meetings but will not let even his colleagues in the ministry on the stage. He will tirelessly shout and scream from whatever platform, in India or abroad, will lie through his teeth, give brazenly false historical and political references. But nobody will question his ignorance, his twisted arguments and his just bulldozing the counter-arguments. However, he will keep the media and people in permanent election mode, knowing that the opposition has lost nerve and the media has lost verve.

The predicament of Jasodaben has descended on the country. Nobody attends to her, nobody talks to her, nobody cares for her and she feels constantly insecure. Indira was not India but Jasoda is indeed India!

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