From Suresh Panigrahi
(Photo from Asis)
Bhubaneswar based Citizen’s Forum, on May 28, organized a discussion on, “ Role of Media in 2014 General Election” by inviting among others a few prominent media persons of the state. They included Subash Ch Pattanayak (orissamatters.com), Rabi Das (Ama Rajdhani and ex-Editor Pragatibadi/Paryabekhak), Sudhir Pattnaik (The Samadrusti), Praffula Dash (The Hindu) and Basant Majhi of the Samyabadi.
Veteran left leader Sri Janardhan Pati presided over the event.
Sri Rabi Das initiated the discussion by making a scathing attack on the irresponsible role that media played in the last election. He said, this was the first general election in the post independence history of the country where it appeared as if the media fought the election and won it. In his view, the mass media was preparing Modi since 2012 Gujarat election victory and was therefore influencing public opinion accordingly. The media today is not in a position to think independently. It has become a mouthpiece of the corporate world. They have followed the American Presidential election campaign pattern, said Sri Das. The corporate world by using media has now captured India’s parliamentary democracy. The coming in to power of communal, fascist and corporate forces indicates the grim danger ahead, warned Rabi Das.
In his presentation, Sri.Sudhir Pattnaik, Editor of the Samadrusti clarified that there should not be any confusion about the character of media today since they are very much part of the corporations. Media is being used as the ultimate weapon to clear all hurdles that come on the way of an aggressive capital. According to him, the progressive forces have failed collectively to understand media, Modi and the Indian electorate-all of them are controlled by a restless aggressive capital which is globally advancing its agenda, Said Pattnaik. He wanted people to be careful when they treat Modi an autonomous man as he represents an ideology and there are forces behind him who are projecting him as an individual who will deliver good governance only to capture power. These forces have been preparing Modi for this coveted post for quite a long time and at a huge cost. Today, they have become successful. This is how Modi a man who became subject of household discussion because of Gujarat Muslim genocide in 2002 became an extremely popular man in 2014.
But it would be wrong to say that the credit of the Modi victory goes to corporate media alone, as RSS was working hardest at all level staring from the booth to ensure that its Swayam Sevak becomes the PM. Modi’s media package was total which included all forms of media-social, print, electronic, physical events etc each one complementing the other. On the contrary, we see progressive forces lacking in all spheres of the campaign. We must understand media and make use of it if we are to succeed. The most feasible way out would be to strengthen non corporate media in all forms, said Sudhir Pattnaik.
Media mischief made India’s Parliamentary democracy suffer blatant defeat in the hands a single individual Narendra Modi in Election 2014, said Veteran journalist Subhas Chandra Pattanayak. He pointed out that primacy of Parliament in selection of a Prime Minister was relegated by the media into insignificance, as much ahead of election of the MPs to say who should be their leader, Modi was projected by Media as BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate, when in fact, he was appointed by BJP as head of its propaganda committee. His Goebbels in media were so eager to reduce India’s Parliament-centric democracy to person-centric, that, to make their design gather momentum, they even were instigating the Congress leadership to announce their Prime-Ministerial candidate before the Parliament election, observed Pattanayak. And, in this design to keep voters dazzled under propaganda for Mr. Modi, the necessity for raising issues for mandate was totally discarded by media, he said. Media did not educate the people on Modi, on all the facets of his political ideology and activities, when he was the only person projected as Prime-ministerial candidate. When ills of capitalism crippled India, in reaction whereto people were so discernibly against Manmohan Singh government, whether capitalism should remain the norm of administration or the country should return to its fundamental resolve for socialism should have been made the issue by the the fourth estate of democracy; but it failed to fulfill this responsibility, as its priority is profit, not the people, he said.
Media never wanted to tell the masses what were the causes behind great scams of the UPA government, inflation, price rise, unemployment etc, and what difference Modi would bring, if he comes to power and how. Modi and the media have not uttered a single word against neoliberal economic policies and the corporate raj. As evidenced in Election 2014, Media has abandoned its social, political and nationalistic responsibilities, a deeply saddened Subash Pattnayak told the audience.
The Hindu’s Odisha chief Prafulla Dash was extremely critical of the way media played a pro-Modi and pro-Nabin partisan role under the heavy influence of corporations invading the soil of Odisha. They carried relentlessly unqualified pro-corporate news under the influence of unaccountable money. The Mafia in Odisha has taken over media in Odisha, opined Dash. It is not easy to challenge the tyranny of corporate media but unless we strengthen small media initiatives at the grassroots level, there is no hope for a better world, said Sri Dash.
Sri Basant Majhi, Associate Editor, Weekly Samyabadi presented statistics suggesting the scale and involvement of corporate power and their money in the last general election. He lamented that the intellectuals and media have become servants of capital today. Henceforth money and only money will decide the future of Indian democracy- a message that one gets from the 2014 general election.
In his presidential address, Sri Janardhan Pati did not appear so hopeless and assured all that it will not be wise to write off Indian masses and accept the temporary success of corporate media as their ultimate success. The media will be rendered useless and irrelevant by the masses if it fails to raise issues affecting the common men.
The Secretary of Citizens Forum, Sri Suresh Panigrahi offered a vote of thanks at the end.