Rahul Gandhi's Rafale attacks fall flat despite media's peculiar reluctance to fact check Congress president


Congress president Rahul Gandhi by no means fails to say how he, in contrast to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will not be “scared” of taking questions from the media in press conferences. Rahul has some extent right here. Whereas Modi has appeared for media interviews however not a single press convention throughout his tenure as prime minister, Rahul ostensibly loves information conferences and claims that fielding questions from the media is “enjoyable”: comprehensible when one is basically spared scrutiny and difficult questions.

File picture of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

For all of the entry that media enjoys vis-à-vis Rahul, it has proven a wierd reluctance up to now to fact-check the Congress president’s claims and maintain him accountable for his phrases. This development was seen even on Wednesday when Rahul appeared for a information convention within the night and repeated the identical set of claims that had been rebutted by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley earlier that day in Parliament.

What’s extra, Rahul’s feedback to the media on the controversial audio tape — which the Congress social gathering claims is the “recorded dialog” of Goa well being minister Vishwajit Rane “revealing” particulars of “secret Rafale information saved in Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar’s bed room” — appeared inconsistent with info and the flip of occasions that performed out on the ground of the Home.

The Congress president has requested 4 inquiries to Modi on the Rafale deal via Twitter. Listed below are 5 questions the media ought to have requested or Rahul through the press convention:

1. Why didn’t Rahul take up Arun Jaitley’s problem on the audiotape if he’s satisfied that the clip is genuine?

Through the press convention, Rahul stated he had learn “a part of the transcript and the tape is genuine.” The Congress president had refused to certify the veracity of the tape in Parliament when his makes an attempt to play it in Lok Sabha met with resistance from the treasury benches. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan urged Rahul to present it in writing that the clip is “genuine” earlier than permitting it to be performed inside Parliament in accordance with Home guidelines. Confronted with the problem, Rahul backtracked. He additionally didn’t learn the transcript after insisting on doing so. On the press convention, nevertheless, Rahul claimed the Speaker disallowed him from taking part in it, due to this fact the query of “authentication doesn’t come up”.

In keeping with Jaitley, Rahul “needs to depend on a tape that’s false and fabricated. Let him authenticate it, place it on the desk of the Home and open himself for an motion of priviledge.”

Jaitley stated Rahul should take duty and face expulsion from the House underneath a privilege movement is the tape is discovered to be false. The finance minister dared the Congress president to position the doc in Parliament if he’s certain of its authenticity. Neither did Rahul take up Jaitley’s problem, nor did he backtrack from his declare. Although the whole sequence was captured on digicam and aired to tens of millions on TV, the media didn’t pursue this line of questioning.

2. The place did Rahul get the determine of Rs 30,000 crore value of offsets to Anil Ambani’s firm?

The info of Rafale have been mentioned threadbare over numerous boards. A Supreme Court docket bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi dismissed PILs looking for a court-monitored probe, saying it has no objections to any a part of the deal. On the offset clauses, the judgment said: “We don’t discover any substantial materials on document to point out that this can be a case of business favouritism to any social gathering by the Indian Authorities.”

The offset clause — as laid out through the UPA rule on defence purchases from international corporations — requires Dassault to make purchases in India for 50 % of the contract worth. Subsequently, if the whole worth of the deal is value Rs 58,000 crore, half of that quantity involves round Rs 29,000 crore.

Now, since Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence is one amongst round 120 offset companions for the deal, their complete enterprise share received’t exceed Three % of the whole Rs 29,000 crore Rafale offset contract. Which means a sum lower than Rs 1,000 crore. Jaitley informed Parliament on Wednesday that it received’t be greater than Rs 800 crore. Other than the Supreme Court docket, which went over these particulars, media reports too have corroborated the federal government’s figures.

If that’s the case, how does Rahul justify his cost? It’s unusual that given the straightforward availability of those figures in public area, the media didn’t maintain the Congress president accountable for his phrases.

3. What’s the foundation of Rahul’s rivalry that the PM is a ‘thief’ when Supreme Court docket has given a clear chit to Rafale deal?

On three contentious points raised by the Congress and made into topic of the petitions in opposition to the federal government, the Supreme Court docket cleared the deal. The CJI-headed Bench, additionally comprising justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph, discovered no event to doubt the decision-making course of within the multi-billion greenback deal, noticed that there was no substantial proof of business favouritism to any non-public entity on the difficulty of offset associate and located no advantage in claims that there was big escalation of prices.

In conclusion, the judgment said: “In view of our findings on all of the three facets, and having heard the matter intimately, we discover no motive for any intervention by this court docket on the delicate situation of buy of 36 defence aircrafts by the Indian authorities. Notion of people can’t be the premise of a fishing and roving enquiry by this court docket, particularly in such issues. We, thus, dismiss all the writ petitions, leaving it to the events to bear their very own prices.”

Given the finality of this judgment, it’s unclear on what foundation the Congress president is accusing the prime minister of dishonesty and stealing. If he has clinching proof of Modi’s wrongdoing, it’s unusual that this proof (or evidences) haven’t been delivered to the discover of the court docket or made out there in public area. As soon as once more, the media has failed to focus on the anomaly between Rahul’s claims and info.

4. How might a Joint Parliamentary Committee ‘reveal reality’ when Supreme Court docket judgment finds no motive for intervention or probe?

After shifting goalposts a number of instances on Rafale deal, Congress and Opposition events have lastly settled on demanding for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe. The political ploy behind Congress’ demand is comprehensible and the social gathering can’t be faulted for making an attempt to pile on the stress on the NDA. The respectable query that ought to have been requested of Rahul Gandhi through the press convention, is that how will a JPC —  topic to political partisanship — conduct a “truthful probe” right into a deal that has been cleared by none lower than the Supreme Court docket?

Even when we disregard Jaitley’s arguments — that JPC in Bofors sought to whitewash the scandal as an alternative of discovering the reality — the very fact stays that the panel whose political neutrality is suspect might find yourself fanning the Rafale debate as an alternative of bringing us any nearer to decision. Political gamesmanship is a poor foundation for structure of a JPC that can undermine the primacy and authority of the Supreme Court docket. It might be a slippery slope.

5. Why did Rahul Gandhi name a scribe a ‘pliable journalist’ throughout a press convention? Does it quantity to intimidation of the press?

Throughout Wednesday’s information convention, whereas referring to ANI editor Smita Prakash — who performed the prime minister’s interview on Tuesday — Rahul used the words ‘pliable journalist’. He stated: “You noticed the prime minister’s interview yesterday… matlab pliable journalist, woh query bhi kar rahi thi, pradhan mantri ka reply bi de rahi thi, facet mein (she was asking questions in addition to offering solutions on the facet).” Earlier within the Parliament, Rahul known as the interview “staged”.

The journalist known as Rahul’s try to ridicule her work a “low cost shot”.

Jaitley has criticised the Congress president for making an attempt to “intimidate an impartial editor” and known as him the grandson of ‘Emergency dictator’ (a reference to Indira Gandhi) who “displayed his actual DNA”. He additionally known as for a response from the Editor’s Guild. The true downside, nevertheless, goes deeper. When political leaders, particularly these occupying excessive positions in public workplace or social gathering, overtly show their disrespect for journalists, that has a deleterious impact on the ethical of the media.

It additionally makes journalists weak to assaults from social gathering associates and trolls on social media. Rahul might have his opinions on the Modi interview, however his disparaging feedback might be construed as an assault on the independence of the Fourth Property. He, nevertheless, didn’t face any scrutiny from the media whereas making the remark.

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