While Arnab Goswami, the powerful polarizer in chief, has secured interim bail from the Supreme Court, the Maharashtra Government and Police have ended up looking like sullen villains skulking in the shadows. So how does one respond to this man and his antics?
Love him or loathe him, you’ve got to admit nobody entertains like Arnab Goswami does. And not just during his fiery debate hour. While being taken away in the police van for his alleged involvement in a 2018 abetment to suicide case, Goswami’s TV histrionics spilled over into real life as he dramatically shouted, “My Life Is in Danger! Please Tell Courts To Help Me!” Though the moving wind drowned his yells a little, they were still loud enough to qualify as yells all right. As an invisible tremulous-voiced Republic TV reporter remarked on the “big claims” made by his boss, you couldn’t help feeling that the boss’s pleas were NOT those of a helpless man. Hell no, of course not.
Watch: When Arnab Goswami’s TV histrionics spilled over into real life
Man of Unlimited Means
As a matter of fact, Arnab Goswami has long wielded power and a great deal of it to boot. He has made provocative statements against minorities, called Dalit protests an attempt to “break up India”, threatened a sitting chief minister, shown disrespect for the judiciary by “judging” a sub judice matter, labelled anyone disagreeing with the politics of the ruling party “anti-national”, and attempted to delegitimize political opposition. And he has done all this with the greatest impunity.
Watch: Arnab Goswami calls Dalit protests an attempt to “break up India”
The amount of power he wields can be gauged by the fact that the Supreme Court acted swiftly to grant him interim bail in the abetment to suicide case, citing a grave danger to his sacrosanct personal liberty. His power also becomes clear as water when one recalls that stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra was summarily put on the no-fly list by almost all leading airlines in the country for briefly heckling Arnab Goswami on a flight. What is more, his recent arrest by the Mumbai Police was almost immediately followed by a flurry of tweets from union ministers, who condemned the act as an assault on freedom of press.
Never mind that freedom of press meant nothing when journalists Ashwini Saini and Om Sharma in BJP-ruled Himachal Pradesh had FIRs filed against them for reporting on the plight of migrant workers during the COVID-19 lockdown. Or when a Kerala scribe was arrested by the police in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh while he was on his way to cover the alleged gang-rape and murder of a young Dalit girl in Hathras.
Likewise, human rights are of critical importance when it comes to applying them to a human being of such critical importance as Arnab Goswami. The Maharashtra Human Rights Commission had issued a notice to Raigad Superintendent of Police over the alleged human rights violation during his arrest. But human rights was code for Islamist propaganda and western interference when it came to those of pregnant student activist Safoora Zargar who was incarcerated for more than two months for protesting against the CAA.
Personal liberty is hogwash when it comes to that of Father Stan Swamy, the 83-year-old Jesuit activist priest, languishing in prison on charges of terrorism. Swamy has been vocal in his support for impoverished tribal people in their struggle against big mining corporates.
Arnab is special. His place is special.
Crippling Blow to Journalism
Truth be told, media muscleman Arnab Goswami is no journalist. He has in fact broken nearly every cardinal rule of journalism. Truth? He never speaks the whole truth; it’s usually just propagandish bluff and bluster. Besides, his channel Republic TV has long been known for broadcasting fake news. Objectivity? Goswami has forgotten what that means. His wild rants tell us he enjoys nothing better than berating his paymasters’ enemies, all the while pretending they are the nation’s enemies. Fairness? He throttled fairness when he brazenly treated a suspect as a convict, taking on the mantle of judge, jury, and executioner.
Watch: Arnab on Tablighi Jamaat
Criticism? Other than routinely shouting down guests who disagree with him, Goswami uses disparaging terms for critics, be they a western newspaper – he called Washington Post “a rag” – an intellectual – he said Arundhati Roy was a “one-book whiner wonder” – or a political opponent – he has described Rahul Gandhi as a nitwit with no intellect.
Long after he is gone from the media landscape leaving an army of tawdry replicas behind, Arnab Goswami will be remembered as the man who delivered the most crippling of blows to Indian journalism, ensuring it never again is able to stand upright.
The Arnab-ish Act
Finally, unkindness came full circle when Arnab Goswami – by his own account – suddenly found his house surrounded by dozens of armed policemen, was arrested and allegedly assaulted. It was uncanny déjà vu when he was granted no bail, but instead summarily remanded to judicial custody on charges he himself labels “false” and “motivated”. He pleaded innocence, he alleged harassment, and nobody believed him. Even if for a fleeting period of time, Arnab underwent the same treatment that scores of political dissidents – activists, journalists, protesters, intellectuals, social workers – have suffered in recent years. The kind of treatment he gleefully gloats over.
But alas! In attempting to punish despicable Arnab, the Government of Maharashtra wound up pulling off à la Arnab.
After all, the reopening of this 2018 abetment to suicide case – whose closure report had been filed way back in April 2019 – after a breach of privilege motion was moved against Goswami in the Maharashtra state assembly in September, smacks plainly of vendetta. It is vindictive, vicious, and petty to orchestrate a plan to harass and browbeat a man for his views. It is, in other words, the classic Arnab-ish act.
What’s worst of all? While the powerful polarizer in chief has secured interim bail, emerging as the victim hero of the drama, the Maharashtra Government and Police have ended up looking like sullen villains skulking in the shadows.
Watch: Arnab Goswami’s ‘message for the nation’ after securing interim bail
Like many of the world’s most terrible problems, Arnab’s antics must be responded to with a sigh, a prayer for better days, and a wave of dismissal.
Go-swami, it’s best to have you out of sight, out of mind. Maharashtra Government, you listening?