A press meet on the recent elections by an upcoming politician has once again brought to light the bias and one-sided machinations of the mainstream Tamil media.
Looks like the mainstream media (MSM) in Tamil Nadu, which seems to be keen on its anti-Modi agenda, isn’t too happy with the outcome of the Lok Sabha elections in the country.
Nothing can illustrate this better than what transpired at a press conference called by Puthiya Tamizhagam founder Dr K Krishnasamy. The media has the right to question people, but there is a limit. That limit seems to have been transgressed by the MSM at the Krishnasamy press meet.
Addressing the media, Krishnasamy said the results in Tenkasi Lok Sabha constituency in Tamil Nadu had ushered in a social revolution. His argument was that there was a good chemistry among all castes and communities while exercising their franchise this time.
In particular, Krishnasamy said he had got votes from all castes and communities - starting from the upper caste to the oppressed ones - and his margin of loss by 1.2 lakh votes was one of the lowest in the state. He added that the voting pattern this time was such that it would result in more radical changes in society, that would be for the betterment of the people.
Point of Argument
A key point of his argument was that he had been able to attract voters of all sections of society and how he had never been able to reach out to people other than his caste - Devendra Kula (DKV) - until this election.
Even as Krishnasamy was saying he had got votes from all castes and communities, a smart johnny from the MSM asked: “Did Thevars vote for you? Did Nadars vote for you?” (Thevars and Nadars make up a significant part of the population in southern Tamil Nadu, where Tenkasi is situated compared to DKVs.) When the leader is talking of harmony among all communities, why is the MSM hell bent on creating divisions with such questions?
Initially, Krishnasamy ignored the question, but when the reporters gathered insisted on his response to their question, he shot back at a reporter seeking his background, including his caste. This issue has now been blown up on social media which is now asking why Krishnasamy sought to know the caste of a reporter.
There is nothing wrong in questioning a leader on why he did this or that. But what needs to be known is how the MSM behaved on 29 May when the press conference was held. Call it poor preparation by the reporters or intimidation of the politician by purpose, MSM revealed its intention to continue peddling its anti-Modi agenda.
A reporter at the press meet wondered why Puthiya Tamizhagam had lost five elections continuously since 1999 while Krishnasamy claims he had got the support of all sections of society. Another reporter asked why Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK), a party launched by TTV Dinakaran who was expelled from AIADMK, got over 90,000 votes if his argument was true. Again, a question to disturb social harmony since the Thevars are seen as staunchly backing AMMK.
The first question was misleading as only in 2014 had Puthiya Tamizhagam been part of a major alliance. In 2014, it was part of the alliance led by DMK, which drew a blank. To the second question, the Puthiya Tamizhagam leader responded that AMMK got its expected share of votes and he wouldn’t want to add more on that.
While responding to the queries from MSM, probably Krishnasamy had come up with questions that put them ill at ease. He made no bones about how the MSM had played a negative role by carrying out a false campaign against Modi. Krishnasamy was spot on in questioning the media on why the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role in reviving jallikattu and setting up the Cauvery Water Management Board were never acknowledged.
Agenda-Driven, Not Fact-Based
No response from anyone, but the MSM continued peddling its agenda. One reporter responded saying there was no water in the Cauvery, little knowing that the storage level in Karnataka reservoirs is 21 per cent or the Cauvery Water Management Board, set up by the Modi government, had asked Karnataka to release 9000 million cubic feet of water to Tamil Nadu the same day. Wasn’t the reporter aware that north-east monsoon rains were deficient as also pre-monsoon showers or a drought-like situation exists in half of the country?
Reporters at the meet were keen to play their anti-Modi agenda than allow the leader to speak or air his views. Otherwise, why should they seek his views on issues like exploration of hydrocarbons, national eligibility entrance exams (for medical college seats) et cetera.
Krishnasamy had two responses to these. One, he asked the reporters to look for records of his stand on these issues. Two, he said these were a continuation of the policies of the previous government that ruled during 2004-2014 of which the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) was an active participant. He was crystal clear in telling the media that no one can change NEET in Tamil Nadu since it had been implemented on Supreme Court orders.
The other issue here is that these were the issues on which the Opposition misled the people and walked away with all but one Lok Sabha seat in Tamil Nadu. Why should the MSM start it all over again? Is there no other issue or agenda for the MSM?
The MSM was also seeking his views on Thoothukudi firing when it should know that the matter is sub-judice. Had it asked how many from Tamil Nadu did Krishnasamy expect to be made ministers, it would have made some sense. Expecting the Tamil Nadu MSM to engage in professionalism seems like wishing for snowfall during hot summer!
Probably, what rubbed the media the wrong way was Krishnasamy’s contention that the MSM had played a dubious role in its opposition to Modi and had come up with fictitious charges.
There was one reporter who argued that Thol Thirumavalavan of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi had won from Chidambaram constituency only because he got votes from all communities and how could Krishnasamy claim so.
Unprepared, Unaware Media?
Now, if the media is fair and keen to know things, it should have asked him on the progress of de-listing the the DKV community from the list of Scheduled Castes (SC). It is for the first time in the country that a community figuring in the SC list wants to be denotified and acknowledged as a developed one.
One, no question in this regard was asked. Second, no MSM has highlighted this issue, save one or two in the print media. What probably provoked Krishnasamy was the repeated questioning by the media on why he had lost from the Tenkasi Lok Sabha constituency.
There is truth in Krishnasamy’s contention that almost every television channel has an owner who is aligned to a political party. For example in Tamil Nadu, Sun Television, Kalaignar Television, Puthiya Thalaimurai, Murasu TV, Sathiyam TV and News18. Even other channels like Thanthi TV or News7 have journalists who sway towards the anti-Modi side.
Politicisation of Media
How fair can the MSM be when each one has one or the other affiliation? A matter of fact is that not in all parts of the country can you find a major part of the media being aligned to the Opposition. Unfortunately, even in Tamil Nadu’s print media, the negative trend of opposing the BJP and Modi for everything has caught up.
The MSM was not smart in particularly asking Krishnasamy why he had lost in Tenkasi when the whole state knows the reasons. One reporter asked why the oppressed class boycotted him. The issue here is how the MSM is so sure that no one from X community or Y caste had voted for Krishnasamy? What is the proof they have?
When those who question the Puthiya Tamizhagam leader for proof, they themselves have no clue. Little has the MSM realised that Tamil Nadu and its people have lost an opportunity to get a minister with a major portfolio. They had a chance, but they fell victim to the false propaganda.
The World Is Tamil Nadu, And Nothing Else: Destructive Solipsism, At Best
The problem with people in Tamil Nadu is that they don’t watch other channels in English or Hindi. The anti-Hindi sentiments spread by the Opposition, particularly the DMK, have made them slaves of select Tamil channels which are economical in truth. In a way, the Dravidian parties have succeeded in peddling the anti-Hindi sentiments to make the people remain like frogs in a well.
Krishnasamy may have lost his cool but why did he lose his temper? The MSM peddles a false narrative in Tamil Nadu and wants to justify it by coming up with questions that suit its agenda. Can any reporter go and ask the DMK and its President M K Stalin why they can’t ask their allies ruling the Karnataka government- Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) - to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu? Leave alone asking them, not a single media outlet has even discussed the issue.
Leaders like Krishnasamy needn’t give much importance to Tamil Nadu MSM as long as it continues to peddle its agenda. The Puthiya Tamizhagam leader is clear that casteism is common in Tamil Nadu media and he isn’t going to go back on asking the reporter in question about his background.
The MSM might claim it has rights to ask questions but should it be at the cost of social harmony? The truth is that the Tamil Nadu MSM stands exposed in this episode.