Monday, 20 April 2015

Infight in Bourgeois Reformist AAP, Exposes its Corporate Connections and Reveals Dirty Picture of Corporate Media and Psuedo Lefts

- Rajesh Tyagi/ 21.4.2015

Thrown out of Aam Admi Party, pursuant to a brief infight inside the Party, Prashant Bhushan has disclosed how one of the top leaders and spokesperson for AAP, Ashish Khetan was hired by corporate group Essar to work in its defence in 2G scam.

AAP leader Ashish Khetan, was one of those who were engaged in the campaign to defend the Essar Group through manipulation of public opinion in the media and the press. Attempting to defend Essar from prosecution, Tehelka had published Ashish Khetan’s story  'The madness in the CBI's method – a story on telecom scam, selective chargesheets and investigations place CBI in dubious light and raise questions about its fairly play and efficiency'.

The disclosure has come on close heels of renewed claims of AAP leaders that their party is a party with difference, committed to change the face of dirty bourgeois politics and make it people oriented.

An email sent by Essar Group Deputy Nancy Jain, reveals how the corporate group was engaged in lobbying of media and the press to get itself exonerated in the famous 2G scam, that involved thousands of crores of public money.

There cannot be a grain of doubt that Prashant and his present colleagues, including Yogendra Yadav were well aware of these AAP connections with corporate and its dirty maneuvers at the time they were going on. On the contrary, strong evidence exists that Prashant Bhushan was closely associated with Ashish Khetan and was instrumental in securing Lok Sabha ticket of the Party, for him. It is clear that all AAP leaders, including the rebels, were well aware of these connections.

In his reply to the show cause for expulsion of the faction led by AAP leaders, Prashant and Yogendra Yadav,  issued by the disciplinary committee of AAP, with Ashish Khetan on its board, Prashant Bhushan exposed how Ashish Khetan wrote in newspapers in favour of Essar Group and defended it in 2G scam, challenging the CBI investigation. Prashant also told that Ashish was engaged by Essar Group through the then Cabinet Minister Salman Khurshid, who himself was lobbying for Essar. The reply also reveals that three crores were given by Essar group to the newspaper ‘Tehelka’ for its Goa fest, to publish articles of Ashish Khetan in favour of Essar. Through fake front companies, donations in crores were given to AAP and its leaders by these corporates.

Tehelka’s Goa fest for which 3 crores were given by Essar was marred in controversy as media group’s chairman Tarun Tejpal, arrested and prosecuted subsequently, was accused by his employee of her sexual harassment.The Goa fest of Tehelka was organized under patronage from the then Governor of Goa and many other top bourgeois elite leaders. Corporate head of Essar, Prashant Ruia was also a speaker at a session in Goa fest, on its second day.

Tehelka group has very close connections with pseudo-left in India and abroad. Top leaders of Stalinist and Maoist Parties in India, were invitees to this fest as speakers in its different sessions. Celebrities like Arundhati Roy, who stood for Maoists and have virtually acted as their mouthpiece, were promoted by Tehelka with Tarun Tejpal at its head. Tehelka had published Arundhati’s articles, among others those defending Maoists, and was instrumental in securing prestigious Bookers’ Prize and other awards for Arundhati. Likewise, Tehelka has promoted many ‘left’ leaders to earn their present fortunes. Amazing is the fact, that the inter-state quarry mafia active in Orissa, MP, Chattisgarh, Andhra and other regions, against whom Tehelka had published dubious articles, among them by Arundhati and others, was the chief donor for its Goa fest.

These leaders of the ‘left’, who continued to be promoted by corporate media like Tehelka, had played shameful and dubious role in cunningly defending Tejpal from prosecution, after he was accused of sexual harassment by his employee. While top leader in stalinist CPM and leader of its women wing AIDWA, Vrinda Karat, maintained a mysterious silence on the issue, one of the top leaders of another Stalinist party CPI ML Liberation and leader of its women wing AIPWA and student wing AISA, told NDTV in no ambiguous terms that no FIR be made and no prosecution be launched against Tarun Tejpal. These leaders, tacitly defended Tejpal, in close association with Shoma Chaudhary, second in command inside Tehelka, who steadfastly stood beside Tejpal.

In October 2011, Tehelka published a cover story 'The inconvenient truth of Soni Sori', written by Tehelka's Managing Editor Shoma Chaudhary, close associate of Tejpal. The introduction of the story goes: "Why were two tribals (reference is to Soni Sori and Linga Kodopi) and the Essar group framed by the Chhattisgarh police." The pseudo lefts associated with and promoted by Tehelka, instead of raising any objection to this journalistic intrigue, continued to support Tehelka giving it a ‘left, democratic face’. Soni Sori, prosecuted for her Maoist links, got AAP ticket to parliamentary fray from Bastar, in 2014, and lost.

Celebrities like Arundhati and Prashant and media dons like Tehelka, have drawn their legitimacy and could acquire a left face, thanks to their close proximity with the psuedo-left associated with stalinist and maoist parties and groups.

However, it is not Tehelka alone, but a number of corporate newspapers and media channels that were engaged in corporate lobbying after 2G scam was exposed. Essar group was engaged in this lobbying, through its Corporate Communication Department (CCD) to get the stories planted in its favour in different newspapers and media. Likewise, other corporate groups were lobbying in their favour.

Email of Nancy Jain reveals that the CCD of Essar group had series of meetings with 45 journalists from different media organisations. These included PTI, Economic Times, Financial Express, Business Standard, NDTV, FEX, News Wire 18, Dowjones, Bloomberg, CNBC and Times Now. The company also lined up with Indian Express, Economic Times and Hindu Business Line for favouring articles protecting Indian Steel Industry.

Nancy's email names all the journalists who were part of this corporate networking.

Media dons and writers had sold them off to the corporate in exchange for petty gains. Sandeep Bamzai, editor of ‘Mail Today’ had demanded a free taxi for two weeks from Essar group. Mayur Shekhar Jha, consulting editor with News 24, asked Essar to arrange lunch for 15 guests in its guest house, that included costly liquor, Anupama Airy, one of the editors of Hindustan Times, took similar favours from Essar. Indian Express' Associate Editor Priyadarshi Siddhanta, Meetu Jain of Times Now, Dev Sharan Tiwari and a journalist from PTI, are among others who took favours from Essar for favouring it through their media platforms.

What is exposed, is however, only tip of the iceberg. The booty from loot of public exchequer in thousands of crores through 2G and other scams had continued to be distributed through corporate and big business to the journalists and leaders of bourgeois parties.

The AAP leaders, who were successful in winning faith and confidence among the workers and toilers for their farcical propaganda that they would reform capitalism to a ‘saint capitalism’ serving the people instead of corporates, were in fact working for corporates and in turn, were receiving huge donations from them, through different deals and channels.

Top leaders of bourgeois AAP, come from elite layers of the society and are closely bound up with the big business and corporates. AAP has given critical support to the capitalism in political crisis by selling off the false dream to toiling masses that capitalism can be reformed and tailored to serve the masses. Instead, after capturing power in Delhi, with unprecedented vote margins, the AAP government in Delhi is serving the capitalist establishment like other capitalist governments in the country. AAP leaders, who had pledged not to accept luxuries, have occupied lavish bungalows, luxury cars and all state privileges.

The step by step exposure of deep nexus between corporates, media, reformists, and the false lefts, is a lesson for the working class that underscores the urgent need for a determined fight against the reformists and the false lefts inside the camp of labour movement, alongside the struggle against the corporates and their 'presstitute' media outside of it.

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