It is a biting truth that the mainstream national media has ignored our Seven sister states (or the North East) for decades. Even in the age of 24×7 news channels, where competitors are cutting each other’s throat for TRPs, we hardly hear about what happens in these seven states.
In these decades of neglect there have been many events in the NE that should have occupied our drawing room debate. In Assam alone under the Gogoi regime there has been a massive demographic change (Bangladeshi Immigration) that took place in the last 20 years, a monster that is so big that it can dictate the Assam government’s politics, policies and programs. This demographic change was the underlying root cause for the Kokrajhar riots in 2012 where close to 100 people were killed and around 400,000 people were displaced from their villages to take shelter in refugee camps in their own country. To sample the media apathy, here is the tweet of Padmashri Rajdeep Sardesai, the self-styled secular journalist:
Some riots are holier than thou. While Malda and Assam riots will undergo the tyranny of distance test, riots under the BJP regime will easily overcome all such hurdles.
We will be mistaken if we think that only riots are ignored, if you wish to know how badly 2014 Assam floods (1.5 Million people affected) failed to make it to the mainstream media sample these cartoons. While millions suffered floods media was busy discussing the sensational murder mystery of Indrani Mukherjee and her affairs on prime time.
If this “scale” is not enough for our media, we can conveniently forget other positive stories of Eastern states like Pradip Sarmah’s Rickshaw Bank which years before the Jandhan Scheme actually came into existence created a credit history for the rickshaw pullers that changed their lives and pulled them out of poverty. We will never get to know that Sikkim is the first completely organic state in India and many more such NE contributions.
Media Loves BJP:
Media loves BJP and they follow it everywhere they go like the pug in the Vodafone ad. The first blue eyed boy of the media was our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the early days of the 24×7 television Narendra Modi was just a normal ‘gumnaam’ Gujarat Chief Minister. Post 2002 media threw so many stones at him which he tactically used it not just to build a castle for himself but also went onto become the prime minister of the country. If not for media chasing him and making him an icon he possibly would have lost elections like any other CM forget becoming tallest leader of our times.
Karnataka was always under reported until Yedyurappa became the CM of the first BJP south entry, the hyper active media reported everything and anything about Karnataka from 2008-2013. During this period anything that happens in Karnataka was prime time news and enough masala was provided by the Reddy Bros & Yeddy himself to keep media entertained. After the collapse of the BJP govt the media turned away its cameras. Today Karnataka by many parameters is amongst the most underperforming states, but there is a deafening silence in the mainstream media. Imagine Yeddy as CM being gifted a 70 Lakh watch; the country would have come to stand still. Media was hyperactive to paint Yeddy as the corrupt poster boy of BJP, but ignored the high court observations on the same controversy. (Convenience of reporting).
Goa was another state that shot into media fame with BJP’s Govt formation in 2012, after decades of media neglect today we get to hear and discuss all controversial statements, minister trips to foreign locations, Local body elections etc from Goa thanks to the BJP rule there.
Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh also enjoy media limelight and even a local leader’s statement gets national attention. The current media darling state is Haryana, followed by Maharastra, Rajasthan and Jharkhand.
Just imagine the media coverage if:
- 2013 floods of Uttarakhand were under BJP rule
- Himachal CM who is under CBI scanner and continues to be CM despite the warrants and near culpability was from BJP
- Kokrajhar or Malda riots happened under BJP
- Kidnaps and Murders of Bihar scale happened in any BJP state
- Modi had a son in law like Vadra with business interests
Also Media conveniently ignores positive changes and models that emanate from the neutral states like AP, TN, Telangana, Orissa etc for its own obvious reasons.
The underperforming BJP spokespersons on TV shows appear like lame ducks and are so vulnerable that anything that is remotely wrong in the BJP ruled states are successfully tagged and attributed as BJP’s brand failure. The panels are heavily constituted to corner BJP while ignoring the neglect of the successive governments on various issues. BJP does miss the likes of Smriti Irani who would take the panelists head on and with facts.
Bringing Assam onto the Media Map:
When Shaktiman the police horse can make it to BBC only because a BJP MLA allegedly hit it with a stick then imagine what you as a human being can achieve as long as you ensure you can drag a BJP representative into it. (Let us not drag the British into this debate for their record on human and animal rights)
The moral of the story is that next time you need to be noticed simply drag your nearest BJP MLA/MP/Corporator /Sarpanch into the issue and then see how your local issue will become a national issue with anchors screaming with megaphones the ‘Nation wants to know’.
So Assamese have a short cut to media fame via the ballot. Hopefully in the days to come we will get to hear more about Assam and the other NE states, let us wait until the results are out in May.