The most widely viewed English language TV news channel is vigorously campaigning against corruption in the Augusta Westland helicopter deal. The channel’s anchor belligerently asks the government why it refuses to question Abhishek Verma, the alleged lynchpin of the scam presently housed in Tihar jail, instead of sending CBI sleuths on a wild goose chase to Italy. It is a good question. But equally good questions may be asked of the TV channel itself and other mainstream news outlets.
While describing the events related to the scam the aforementioned channel drew attention to the meetings conducted by the female representative of the Swiss arms giant, Sig Sauer, who is married to Abhishek Verma and is currently also in jail. Curiously enough the news channel which has meticulously traced documents related to the chopper deal failed to draw adequate attention to the reported meeting of Sig Sauer officials with Congress MP Mr. Rahul Gandhi on December 6, 2011 between 3.00 pm and 4.00 pm according to the itinerary recorded by the Sig Sauer officials. The news channel did prominently report the meeting between the Sig Sauer officials and “a senior politician” without naming Mr. Gandhi.
What was the need to be so coy? It may be argued that the TV channel did not trust news published elsewhere and was therefore reticent. However matters do not end there.
Janata Party president Mr. Subramanian Swamy last Sunday alleged during a press conference in Patna that Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi’s two sisters in Italy acquired half the kickback amount in the Augusta Westland chopper scandal. Mr. Swamy’s press conference was covered by news agencies and was reported in several TV channels and newspapers across the nation. The prominent English language channels however ignored the allegations. But curiously enough the Indore edition of the print outlet of the crusading TV channel did report Mr. Swamy’s allegations. But its Delhi edition was silent. The crusading TV channel owned by the same media house also remained silent.
Did the government manage the media to black out Mr. Swamy’s allegations?
If that be the case the government is ill advised.
The purported itinerary of the Sig Sauer officials alleging the meeting of Mr. Rahul Gandhi and its officials should be contradicted by the government. Mr. Swamy’s allegations should not only be rebutted but also be challenged in a court of law unless he proffers a contradiction and apology. Managing the media to silence allegations will only worsen the situation. And the worst sufferer in case the reports are untrue would be of course Mrs. Sonia Gandhi herself. Silence would be perceived by the public at large as admission of guilt.