Rajiv or Rao

The occasion was the 125th anniversary of the Indian National Congress. Sonia Gandhi and her party quite distinctively distanced themselves from P V Narasimha Rao denying the former Congress Prime Minister any credit for the economic reforms.

Gandhi was speaking at a function where she and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laid the foundation of the Indira Gandhi Bhavan, which will be the new headquarters of the AICC, at Kotla Road. This is lamentable.

It is worthwhile to remember here that it took a major crisis for the economic reforms to happen. During Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure external debts of the Government had been increasing.
He was assassinated in 1991 when the Congress Party was still preparing for the elections. Some credit can be taken by the Rajiv Gandhi government which gave special emphasis to the electronics and telecommunications industries. Rao appointed as his finance minister Dr Manmohan Singh and spearheaded the reforms of the 90s.

Success, said John F. Kennedy has many fathers.

His Sexcellency?

The 85th birthday of former Prime Minister and BJP patriarch Atal Bihari Vajpayee is front page news, especially when you have the present prime minister showing his reverence with folded hands. So is a sex scandal by a governor of the same age. Both the items had their dignified place (the latter solely from journalistic point) in the front pages of the news dailies.

News channel Andhra Jyothi broadcast a tape on Friday morning purportedly showing the Andhra Pradesh Governor, Narayan Dutt Tiwari having sex in the company of three women. The Indian Express followed the story with a juicy title “His Sexcellency?”, and a detailed coverage supplemented wherever needed with the interview of Andhra Jyothi’s managing editor, V. Radhakrishna. The editor admitted that the women purportedly having sex on tape were aware of the sting operation and had agreed to participate. The story had an overall balanced treatment bringing in the angle of the “woman broker”, Radhika who was promised a mining lease for allegedly “supplying women” to the veteran politician.

More revelations

The tabloid Mail Today that follows the story with bold headlines, and quite expectedly so, brings in more surprises in its report. It states that the Telugu TV channel that telecast the video claims that the clippings were of a bedroom at Raj Bhavan. The tabloid quotes Radhika saying that there were times when the governor would meet dignitaries in the hall in Raj Bhavan while the girls were kept in his bedroom on the first floor. She also claimed that a few Congress MPs would come to Raj Bhavan to sexually exploit the young girls and that the girls could identify these MPs.

The managing editor of the news channel has revealed that they took two months to prepare the sting. If these claims are true it will not only make a mockery of the Governor’s office but also of the High Court’s order. The Andhra Pradesh High Court had asked the channel to refrain from broadcasting the tape saying it was likely to “demean and denigrate” the gubernatorial office. How will the court save the gubernatorial office from denigration if the allegations against Mr. Tiwari is established?

One-sided story

The Hindu provides only a one-sided picture of the story. The headline, “N.D. Tiwari embroiled in a controversy” is as mild as the treatment to the story. The report states that the AP High Court has restrained the ABN channel from showing visuals allegedly of Governor Narayan Dutt Tiwari in a compromising position with three women in the Raj Bhavan. The English daily quite noticeably brings in the Raj Bhavan side of the story without even going into the allegations against the Governor and former Union Minister. It quotes extensively from a press note issued from the Raj Bhavan. The note from the Raj Bhavan argues that “Mr. Tiwari is 86 years old and in the evening of his life” and laments that “constitutional functionaries are dragged into needless controversy with utter disregard to propriety.” If the assertion of Andhra Jyoti channel is authentic, which it claims it is, it will be in utter disregard to propriety – of the gubernatorial office.

Dipu Shaw