I am calm and composed in the shadows,
The stillness and silence is empowering,
I shift between the shadows, dodging the light,
They call for me, yelling a name,
But it’s never mine.

My purpose is simple,
I fall a monster with a blade,
I am unmoved by the weak relief of civilisation;
Of robes, debates and claims of humanity,
I serve the blind god with conviction,
She knows me by a name,
But it’s never mine.

The world howls in hate,
For I test its many illusions again and again,
Yet it whispers about me with relief and gratitude,
They say a name,
But it’s never mine

I am a dog of War,
I am consumed by the Berserker trapped inside,
I cannot live in lands of hopes and dreams,
I will perish under a banner I will not know,
They will carve a name on my tomb,
But it’s never mine.

I wander this desolate plane,
I understand it and it understands me,
They cry and they rejoice over my actions,
But the dead remember no glory,
The dead remember no sins,
Hero, monster, saviour, they say,
But these names are never mine.


Not Just the Opposition, the News Media has tasted blood

sushmaExternal Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje’s aid to Lalit Modi has energised some Opposition parties, namely the Congress, to counter PM Modi’s ‘scam free’ year in power.

Multiple press conferences by Congress leaders are trying their best to sustain the issue. Former union ministers are slamming Swaraj and Raje, accusing them of undermining the  Enforcement Directorate investigation against the former IPL commissioner. They have even accused PM Modi of being hand-in-glove with Lalit Modi, conflating the IPL scam with Swaraj and Raje’s actions, making allegations of a quid pro quo despite any evidence of a money trail.

This is natural in politics to counter the might of the BJP, which has maintained a relatively positive image regarding governance in the last one year. The Centre has not buckled under pressure, and even hit back with a reality check that several Congress leaders have rubbed shoulders with Lalit Modi in the past.

cong pcBeyond the politics, the news media seems to have tasted blood. After the Congress offered a scam feast on a silver platter, even press conferences laden with controversial sound bites from union ministers like Beni Prasad Verma, the Modi government has made the news media starve. The last one-year has been packed with achievements of the Modi government with mini-controversies over sound bites which don’t survive more than a few days in the news cycle. Swaraj and Raje’s case has wet the news media’s appetite, reflected by the constant coverage, the long, loud, righteous tone debates, and the standard line of questioning with the repetition of the basic facts to keep the allegations alive – creating more room for speculation and less reporting.

The news media seems to be in a vengeful mood as the Modi government has effectively managed political communication ever since it came to power. With the BJP’s dominance on social media where it speaks directly to the voters, the party has reduced its dependence on the conduit of the mainstream media, a fact the big media houses are painfully aware of. On almost every news channel, there are shrieks over why isn’t ‘serial tweeter’ PM Modi speaking up on the issue, despite clarifications from senior ministers in the government. There have even been attempts to compare UPA’s multi-crore scams with the Lalit Modi row, with the simple thread that the PM’s office is silent on the issue. Yet, unlike the UPA era – there is no public mobilisation against the Centre, no public protests or online campaigns against corruption, with the outrage contained in the political arena, where even the Opposition is divided.

mediaWhile Congress is there to prop up the coverage, the news media even looked to Twitter, seeking its blessings. However, it was not cooperative for long. Twitter discussed the story the first few days, but attacked the news media for conflating the Lalit Modi row into a full-fledged ‘scandal’. The number one hashtag which emerged just a few days after the story broke was #ShameonTimesNow followed by #IStandwithSushmaSwaraj. The news media was primarily attacked for not highlighting how leaders across political parties have links with dubious personalities including Lalit Modi and even extended favours to them from positions of power. The focus on Sushma Swaraj and Raje has come across as a media witch-hunt.

The news media and the Congress can at least take credit for pressuring the ED to increase the speed of the probe into Lalit Modi. However, in the court of public opinion, which the news media dearly values, the coverage of the controversy has got a thumbs down. The news media and Congress’ blitzkrieg against the Modi government has not been digested well. The bottom line of the case is that a man was helped by the government to be with his ailing wife. Raje’s case has come across as a non-issue. The recommendation letter has failed to make the ‘impropriety’ argument a serious one as Lalit Modi is not public enemy number one and this is reflected by the absence of public outcry. It is extremely difficult to generate even manufacture public outrage over this case.