'Truth spoken without moderation reverses itself'
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Sunday, June 8, 2014
Shubha Mudgal threatened in the US for her anti Modi stance // Modi bars ministers, bureaucrats from talking to journalists
Just before her performance, an irate NRI verbally attacked Shubha Mudgal for her anti-Modi stance. Vocalist Shubha Mudgal, who is currently touring in the USA, was apparently threatened by a board member of the Sunnyvale Hindu Temple. While the audience was looking forward to Shubha Mudgal and Bombay Jayshree’s performance at the Sunnyvale Hindu Temple’s auditorium area, one board member insisted on meeting and talking to Shubha Mudgal.
A source says, “As soon as she stepped aside, the man began to intimidate Shubhaji, criticising her for her ‘anti-Modi, anti-Hindu and antinational’ stand. He told her that he will not ‘tolerate this’ and he went to threaten her with dire consequences if she continued to maintain her stand on the issue.’’It seems that the organisers of the- show — members of the Kalalaya and Bay Area Telugu Association – stood quietly as the man continued his verbal attack. “Tabla maestro Aneesh Pradhan, who is Shubhaji’s husband, came rushing to the scene only to find this man completely out of control. It was only after all the artistes protested that security was called in to ensure order,” says the source.
Ashima Yadav, a San Francisco-based photographer recounts the incident. “His objection to Shubha Mudgal performing at the temple, which he clearly treated as his fiefdom, are an indication of how bold these right-wing thugs have become since the recent elections. This is in no way representative of the Bay Area community which welcomes and honours artistes from India no matter what their political persuasions.’’
While Shubha’s in-laws in Mumbai said they were unaware of any such issue, the singer confirmed that a problem had occurred via email. She wrote, “I am safe but I did face a problem on June 1. I am currently in transit and about to board a flight. I feel it would be best if I shared the details of my experience with you on my return to India.” It may be pointed out that Mudgal, along with a host of other artistes, had signed an appeal to fellow Indians to choose secular candidates during the general elections that were held in April-May.
Modi bars ministers, bureaucrats from talking to journalists One of the facts that went largely unremarked about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with senior bureaucrats on Wednesday was that he instructed them to keep away from media. Modi has also reportedly asked his cabinet colleagues to refrain from speaking to the journalists and instead letting official government spokespersons do the talking on their behalf. These instructions may well be the first serious step to turn New Delhi into Gandhinagar, where during Modi’s three terms as chief minister, members of his cabinet would not speak to the press unless they had obtained permission from him. Even the customary press briefings after the state cabinet meetings – which in other states are addressed by ministers – are either not held at all in Gujarat or are addressed by spokesmen of the state government.
Already in Delhi, senior bureaucrats have been avoiding journalists, just as they do in Gandhinagar. So have union ministers – even those who till recently appeared so eager to talk to journalists. The change in the behaviour of ministers like Arun Jaitley, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Prakash Javadekar and Nirmala Sitharaman is glaring. Jaitley, who till recently used to be surrounded by journalists, appears busy guarding against any leaks from his ministry. According to Business Standard, the Finance Minister has written to his subordinates asking them not to quote him or share his views while talking to the press. To many, the silence of Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman – the Bharatiya Janata Party’s TV face so far – is no less baffling, especially as it came in the aftermath of her statement that the government would oppose Foreign Direct Investment in retail. Telecommunication Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar have also gone mum. One news source that is fast acquiring a monopoly over the dissemination of the government news – apart from the Press Information Bureau, which is churning out press statements at an unprecedented pace – is the Prime Minister himself. But, as he has shown in Gujarat, press conferences are not his preferred means of making statements. Instead, he appears to be more comfortable with his Twitter handle. Modi’s tweets, in fact, are fast becoming the main source of news for the media persons in Delhi.
Political observers, both inside and outside the Sangh Parivar, agree that this is a step towards developing a single-window system for the flow of information. One of the reasons being suggested for this attempt to cut the government off from the media is the growing fear of a possible sting operation – on the lines of one carried out by Tehelka that jolted the Atal Behari Vajpayee government over a decade ago – to investigate the new ruling dispensation. Such is this fear that one of the ministers in Modi government, Minister of State for Agriculture Sanjiv Baliyan, has put up a notice outside his office asking visitors to not bring a mobile phone or even a pen inside his cabin. http://scroll.in/article/666554/Modi-bars-ministers,-bureaucrats-from-talking-to-journalists