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Lazy or too polite? Why has the Delhi media failed to find Rahul Gandhi?

By SNM Abdi

Shame on the Delhi press for not unearthing where Rahul Gandhi is holed up. It’s shocking how the media in the capital is just a passive spectator instead of playing its role as society’s watchdog and sniffing out a missing VVIP like Rahul.

The media’s abject failure is a boon for the BJP which is reaping the benefits of Rahul’s disappearance since 23 February.  Cornered on any issue ranging from Giriraj Singh to Masarat Alam to the Land Bill, BJP spokespersons tell Congress representatives – Go look for Rahul!

For instance, Amit Shah declared in Bangalore on Friday: “The Opposition is hopeless and directionless. Instead of raising non-issues and fictional issues, they should find out where their leader is.”

 Lazy or too polite? Why has the Delhi media failed to find Rahul Gandhi?

Why is it so difficult to know where Rahul Gandhi is gone? PTI image

But if journalists lifted the veil on Rahul’s whereabouts, Sambit Patra’s, Nalin Kohli’s or Meenakshi Lekhi’s glee would evaporate in talk-shows - the smirks wiped off their faces. The media’s failure is galling particularly because quite a few government officials know exactly where Rahul is. Not only are they aware of Rahul’s precise location on a daily basis, his images are transmitted to them often several times a day via smartphones!

There is a gentleman called Vivek Srivastav who heads an organization called Special Protection Group which looks after the security of Narendra Modi, Sonia Gandhi and her two children - Rahul and Priyanka - and former Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh, including Dr Singh’s family.

Needless to say, SPG doesn't spy on them or listen in. It has an eye out for protectees to keep them out of harm’s way. Rahul is under the gaze of SPG’s Operations Branch commandoes 24x7. Whether Rahul is in India or abroad, SPG commandoes never let him out of their sight or turn their backs on him. Rahul is assigned 8-10 commandoes in India and 2-3 when he is overseas. Their job is to throw a protective shield around him everywhere at all times.

Another gentleman called Dineshwar Sharma, Director Intelligence Bureau, is in the loop. As the nation’s senior-most police officer at par with the three service chiefs by virtue of his four-star rank, he is privy to threat perceptions and security cover for anybody who is somebody – and Rahul is in that bracket, thank you.

And then there is the all-knowing Ajit Doval, National Security Advisor, whose appetite for real time intelligence about India’s movers and shakers is the stuff of legends. His wizardry stems from a fairly common human trait – curiosity – fine-tuned to perfection. So he knows all there is to know.

Delhi is teeming with journalists who live in upscale neighbourhoods like Gulmohar Park, earn in lakhs, flaunt PIB Accreditation Cards, drive expensive cars, holiday abroad, party with the who’s who at India International Centre or Habitat – and drop names to impress colleagues in the morning meeting.

Can’t these big daddies – the crème de la crème of the media - coax information out of Srivastav, Sharma or Doval about Rahul’s coordinates? I know their lips are officially sealed but has anyone even sounded them? Has anyone tried?

And how about tapping Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley – two of the most media-friendly BJP heavyweights? They can easily procure the latest information about Rahul from government officials and pass them on to journalists who they have known for years and can’t say ‘no’ to. This is how the game has always been played.

Remember Arnab Goswami waving a bunch of filled-in proformas when ‘Snoopgate’ – the scandal over Delhi Police gathering personal details about Rahul – was raging? Brandishing the proformas of VVIPs like Sonia Gandhi, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, Arnab announced that Rahul’s proforma, over which the Congress had raised a storm, was a routine affair and not a case of snooping.

I remember Arnab announcing – “I dug out these proformas.” - in a bid to emphasise his investigative skills. Most probably, Arnab asked BJP leaders and officials for those proformas and he got them on a platter because it served the BJP’s purpose.

Why doesn’t Arnab find out from the BJP leadership or government officials where Rahul is and reveal it on Times Now with video footage? Similarly, Barkha Dutt of NDTV or Praveen Swami and Ritu Sarin of Indian Express, can do the honours. These stars owe it to their profession which has given them so much.

For Christ’s sake, Rahul’s whereabouts is not a state secret. I am not egging on the press to find out where nuclear warheads are kept or lay their hands on the Order of Battle. Publicising Rahul’s location will by no means endanger national security.

Two legitimate questions arise. 1. If I’m so smart then why don’t I unravel the Rahul mystery instead of preaching? 2. Why is Congress giving ammunition to the BJP by keeping mum about Rahul’s location despite "missing" posters in Amethi with lines from a Hindi film - Jaane Woh Kaun Sa Desh, Jahan Tum Chale Gaye, Chithi Na Koi Sandesh.

To be honest, I’m in no position to unearth Rahul. I’m just a commentator eking out a living in Kolkata far away from the capital’s corridors of power. I have never had the good fortune of meeting even a single person mentioned in this piece – except Arnab who hosted me in the Times Now studio for a discussion on the 2011 West Bengal assembly elections which brought Mamata Banerjee to power.

As far as the Congress is concerned, its refusal to divulge Rahul’s whereabouts is as baffling and disappointing as its failure to defang Modi between 2004 and 2014 when it had the wherewithal to make his life miserable, or properly highlight economic growth during UPA rule to checkmate the BJP last year.

But even as India is in the dark about Rahul's whereabouts thanks to the press abdicating its role, the Congress Party has made some solid gains behind his back.

A lot has been written about Sonia’s re-emergence as Leader of Opposition. But I would give Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot very high marks for their noteworthy performance in Parliament and TV studios in Rahul’s absence. They are ripe for a bigger role when Rahul resurfaces and is anointed president.

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Updated Date: Apr 06, 2015 07:57:05 IST