By Sushil Kutty
The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena are no longer handshaking friends and won’t be unless the Shiv Sena returns to the earlier nuptial arrangement – BJP on top! The two have been at war since after Uddhav Thackeray dumped his dead father’s legacy and went secular than thou to form government in Mumbai with support from Sharad Pawar’s NCP and Sonia Gandhi’s Congress.
With control over Maharashtra gone, the BJP’s stallion has been chapping at the bits. But the MVA mare has been nimble-footed with wily riders from the Congress and NCP to mount the charge, if required, in style! Now, with the Bihar assembly election round the corner and stakes higher than ‘Blacktop’ at the LAC, skirmishes have multiplied and proxies are at each other’s throats even as these sacrificial goats face lynching in the bitter to and fro.
It’s not rocket science to decipher that, under the circumstances, the death of a ‘Bihar’ actor in Bollywood is as much poll plank as it is to log that the opposing party’s diatribe is to build the atmospheric that Uddhav Thackeray’s MVA government is up to its neck in wrongdoings and therefore not fit to rule. Oust!
At a certain level, the proxies know the risks. Whether it’s Republic Media Network or Bollywood, risk-taking is part and parcel. It’ll be naïve to believe that Arnab Goswami and his Republic Media Network don’t know what’s in store. Arnab G is the face of the ‘nationalist’ BJP and the Modi Government in the ‘MVA-BJP War 2020.’ And Bollywood for various reasons happens to be in the MVA tent.
At least in the Mumbai Police lines, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray couldn’t do much when the Sushant Singh Rajput case was given to the CBI. The Supreme Court was involved and the Maharashtra government did not and could not invoke ‘consent’ and keep the CBI out on a limb. But since then too much saltwater has battered the rocks on the seashore and the Mumbai Police Commissioner has gone too far ahead in the game to be given up at the altar.
Of course, it’s a dirty war. The Modi Government gives the impression to the hoi polloi that Modi is so engrossed in keeping the morale of the troops up at the LAC, and fighting Covid-19 countrywide, that he’s got no time for TRP wars and Bollywood bolognaise, however tasty the sauce!
But the perception handlers forget that the caged parrot is let out of the golden cage only when there’s need to take over a particular case that has the potential to destroy competition and mark supremacy. The CBI, sad to say, is a hedgemon’s hand to play, and the ‘central’ in it spells who controls it, and who it serves!
If intelligent Indians haven’t noticed, fools would tell them that it’s confounding and rather funny that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has been of late too eager to hand over criminal cases registered in Uttar Pradesh – whether the Hathras gang-rape or Lucknow ‘Golden Rabbit TRP case’ – to the Centre’s Central Bureau of Investigation.
It’s almost as if Yogi has been left instructions to do so – ‘Better give it to big daddy, sonny!’ And because the BJP rules both in New Delhi (not to be confused with Kejriwal’s ‘Dilli’) and in Lucknow, the cases get equal treatment: Results wouldn’t be different whether investigated by state police or central investigators. The same hand controls the joystick!
So, it was that the West Bengal and the Telangana governments refused ‘consent’ to the CBI. These two governments knew that giving ‘consent’ to the CBI to enter their states was tantamount to inviting the executioner to a peace conclave. Of course, it’s another matter that state governments don’t want the CBI to pry into matters that state governments want kept hidden, under wraps! There’s a 50:50 chance that the Centre lets in/out the caged parrot not to deliver justice but to divert justice to suit a narrative that suits the Centre’s narrative.
The SSR case and the fallout Bollywood drugs investigations against certain actors were like desserts served to the “unknown killers” of SSR. People were emotionally involved and their feelings could not be hurt. And the fate of major elections in a state hinged on these cases. The Shiv Sena had every intention to contest the Bihar elections and denying ‘consent’ to the CBI in the SSR case would have been ‘suicide.’
Not so the TRP ‘scam’ case. This is a criminal case on which both the Modi Government at the Centre and the MVA Government in Maharashtra want to have scrutiny and oversight over. Therefore, the tussle to get control, and the tit-for-tat. The MVA Government lodges a TRP-scam case in Mumbai to be investigated by the Mumbai Police. Then, there’s a TRP case lodged in Lucknow and, lo behold, there’s a nationwide TRP case to be investigated by the intrepid CBI.
Just in the nick of time! So to speak. After Republic TV got wise to Mumbai Police’s intentions, and just after Yogi Adityanath, acting for the Centre and “BJP’s friend” Arnab Goswami, the Uddhav Thackeray dispensation, executioner-style, refused “consent” to the CBI – the doors locked and the keys thrown into the dank seawater behind the Gateway of India!
The Uddhav Thackeray Government’s refusal of ‘consent’ came a day after the CBI took over the TRP case lodged in Uttar Pradesh, which had ‘Modi Government’ written all over it. The apprehension was that the October 6 Mumbai Police TRP case against Republic TV would be “subsumed” and buried to be never exhumed if it’s taken over by the CBI.
Republic TV’s counsel Harish Salve had already asked that the case be transferred to the CBI. It’s also not lost on anyone that both the BJP and the Modi Government stand behind Republic TV with talk of a threat to press freedom building up. Earlier, in a reverse déjà vu, the Bihar Police had instituted a case in the SSR death mystery and then, too, the case had gone to the CBI.
So, what should one make of all this? There’s no denying that at least in the TRP ‘scam’ case, the Yogi Adityanath Government and the Modi Government are “using” them to wage war on the opposition. And, if the Uddhav Thackeray Government is using the Mumbai Police to target Republic TV Network, the courts have taken cognizance and both the High Court and the Supreme Court are “keeping track.”
The powers to withdraw “consent” accorded to a state government comes from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act. The CBI cannot override it. But the Centre can still give the TRP case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), if suspicions are raised of a threat to national security, of foreign forces behind the scam. There’s already talk of a Dawood Ibrahim link and there are reports of a $50 million ‘supari’ on the head of Arnab Goswami. (IPA Service)