TCYearEnder: 3 Exits, Here Yesterday Gone Today!
NEW DELHI: 2016 has certainly not been a year for the loud and the controversial. Three personalities, noted and admired or conversely vilified for their loud decibles and their controversial action, followed a similar exit pattern: sudden, dramatic and unexpected. And seemingly invincible at the time of their respective exits as all three professed deep and loyal support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The first was then Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani who spoke loud, and batted for PM Modi even as she remained at the top of controversy from the time she was brought into his Cabinet. From her educational qualifications to Rohith Vemula’s death at the Hyderabad Central University to the arrest of students in Jawaharlal Nehru University, Irani was in the thick of it. Her speech in Parliament after the JNU fiasco where the police stormed the campus and struck terror through the arbitrary arrest of students had PM Modi tweeting appreciation. Until the social media struck back, aghast at the words and the combative style used by Irani in Parliament.
Just when it seemed that Irani had hit home and secured her position, she was removed. Quietly pushed into the Ministry of Textiles where she has not been heard from since. She is completely out of the spotlights, just another Minister and not the Minister singlehandedly batting for the PM and the party agenda on education. Or as an Opposition wag insisted, “the lack of it.”
The second was Times Now anchor Arnab Goswami who also disappeared just a few months after he had earned eyeballs that the television channel claimed had been sufficient to eclipse all others. Goswami dropped all pretences as he batted for the government, and more specifically for PM Modi as his long, almost fawning interview, with the Prime Minister demonstrated. He waged war against Pakistan on a weekly, almost daily basis; he made the government’s opponents his own and badgered them on television where some left, and some like the Congress party refused to even join; and in the midst of the din and the bias his ratings surged making all other anchors pale in comparison.
And just when he appeared to have become invincible, he left. Just like that. Poof! And Goswami was off the air with just a small clip from a goodbye meeting he had with his staff where he told them he was leaving.
And now the latest as the year ends, Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung. Also seen as a PM favourite, who survived in the post as he made it very evident that he was more than willing to follow instructions to the fine print. In the process Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his government felt the heat, with legislators being arrested, decisions overturned, and appointments overruled. He was targeted by the Opposition and by the Delhi government for taking what they claimed were biased positions and extending his brief by interfering directly in the working of an elected government. Jung claimed that he was following the Constitution and the law, and had not transgressed his authority at any point.
After his sudden resignation, coming a couple of days after he had requested for a few days leave over Christman and the New Year, Jung has of course denied any politics behind it. He said, There is no politics behind it. This was a decision I took earlier.”
And again as quoted in sections of the media, "I have a mother who is 95 and need to give her time and I need to give time to kids, grandkids. I can't take leave in this job.”
Further, "I had offered to resign as I had been appointed by the previous UPA government, but the PM asked me to carry on. After three years, I requested the PM to relieve me but he asked me to carry on," he said.
And, "After three and a half years, I requested the PM again on Tuesday that I would like to resign on personal grounds but he said carry on," he said insisting he was determined to quit.
The resignation comes amidst reports that Jung was in the running fo Vice President, a post that becomes vacant mid 2017 when VP Hamid Ansari completes his term. Clearly, the buzz and the spotlights were not sufficient to keep the Lt Governor in office.
All three are from professions closely related, with the one often flowing into the other. Irani an actor who joined politics like numerous others before her; Goswami a media honcho close to politics; and Jung whose career has been the most chequered in that a bureaucrat by profession he moved to work with Reliance--a business house close to politics---and after a brief flirtation with academics through the post of Vice Chancellor went on to become Delhi’s Lt Governor.
All three were at the top of their respective careers when they left, with no explanation only speculation. Why was Irani removed? The RSS and the PM agreed that she had become too controversial ran the speculation. But officially the government made it clear that there was no demotion and that Textiles was seen as a very important ministry.
Why did Goswami who was seen as a success story for Times Now suddenly move out? Was he sacked? Yes goes the speculation, he was asked to leave by the Times Management as he had become larger than the brand, too controversial, to the point where other political parties were becoming seriously annoyed. Hence he was a liability. No such thing, said Goswami supporters who claim that he is now going to start something bigger with another political lookalike Rajat Sharma.
And what about Jung? Was he told to go by the PM? Was he asked to do something he did not want to, runs the speculation. No such thing says Jung, the PM wanted me to stay but I have to look after my ageing mother.
At the end of the year, the BJP does not seem to be missing its three most vocal supporters. And as for the non-BJP camp, it cannot stop smiling.