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How Twitter storms over Tejpal give fodder to Cong-BJP wars

All roads lead to a BJP-Congress catfight.  Or, at least, it seems that way on Twitter.

In a matter of minutes, Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal's resignation on sexual assault charges became fodder for rightwing indignation and self-satisfaction. "NOW.. NCW member Shamina says 'Girl has to complain to us' #Tehelka Morons! Did "snoopcase" woman complain to you?" tweeted MediaCrooks.

"Dear *Victim* - Please go ahead Kick the bloody @Tehelka job. Sue the bottoms off #Tejpal and his Cronies of that Sin house called #Tehelka," declared Suresh En, offering to contribute to her legal fees and 'physical security.'

The liberal magazine and its prominent editor have long been unpopular in rightwing circles where it is seen, as Media Crooks puts it, as "a Congress doormat." The jubilation over Tejpal's fall was predictable, as was the pushback from the other side.

 How Twitter storms over Tejpal give fodder to Cong-BJP wars


As former Caravan senior editor Jonathan Shainin tweeted, "I see far too many people trying pathetically to use fact of Tejpal's 'apology' as a stick to beat Modi with. Shameful and self-defeating."

It is a sign of the times that sexual assault charges are seen as a 'win' in a bitter environment of political one upmanship.

Almost every news event these days is quickly recast as ammunition in the Congress-BJP, Gandhi-Modi war. The firing of Open's political editor, Hartosh Bal, earlier this month turned him into an unlikely hero in right-leaning circles. editor Prasanna Vishwanathan wrote at the time:

The piece on Rahul Gandhi and Modi which Hartosh hinted might be the reason for his ouster is just one in a long line of similarly tuned essays. Perhaps, as election time nears, both politicians and media owners get jittery. And Sanjiv Goenka, the owner of Open magazine, getting nervous should not surprise anyone. His father, and the founder of the now-bifurcated group Rama Prasad Goenka was a Gandhi family loyalist who was rewarded not just with a Rajya Sabha seat, but was also a trustee of the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust and the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. 

That Bal's last piece was no less harsh on Modi -- as have been many of his op-eds in the past -- seemed to matter little.

The problem with this kind of instant politicisation of every event is that larger issues are obscured and reduced to scoring points. The troubling issue of owner interference in media outlets is not -- and should not -- be a left/right, Congress-BJP issue. Nor should harrasment and assault in the workplace. Sexual predators come in all ideological stripes and almost every political party has its share of tainted leaders.

What is required now is a serious conversation about sexual harrasment, and the absence of enforcement or due process.  Dragging in rumour-mongering, and false equivalences about Modi and Rahul does a great disservice not just to the young woman, but also our society.

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Updated Date: Nov 21, 2013 12:57:31 IST