Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde began his career in the police force. Even though it’s been years since he left that job to become a politician, his instincts and mindset, it seems, have remained those of a policeman. This character trait was evident again on Monday when the home minister targeted the electronic media in Solapur, his hometown, for “acting against the Congress”.
According to reports, Mr Shinde was so angry about the way the media have been targeting the grand old party regarding its chances in the general elections that he went to the extent of saying that media should be “crushed” . However, on Tuesday, he retracted his statement, saying that he did not target the electronic media but the social media. The BJP reacted by saying that Mr Shinde’s comment was an outcome of the depression prevailing within the Congress due to its imminent defeat.
Mr Shinde is not the only one who is miffed with the media these days. A couple of days ago, AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal attributed corrupt motives to the media that were critical of him and charged the media with being pressured into ignoring him without coming up with specific details or material to substantiate such allegations. This argument is a bit rich: in the last few months, Mr Kejriwal and his party, AAP, have benefited from the media much more than any other party. This bash-the-media attitude, whenever any negative story comes out, is seen in Bollywood too.
Mr Shinde and people like him must realise that a significant part of the media’s job is to report on things that have been promised and not done and also give space to all shades of opinion. If much is being written about the Congress, it is because the media and the people have the right to evaluate its work in the last 10 years. All parties face this scrutiny.
As far as opinion polls go, it happens before every election. Mr Shinde should take the results in the right spirit because such surveys are still not banned in India, though the government has been considering a ban on such polls in line with the views of the Election Commission. But until that happens, there is no point shooting the messenger.