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A free lesson in column-writing

Sachin KalbagI am so tired of columns about Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi dominating the media narrative in India that I decided to write a column that does not mention Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi.

After all, what’s the point of writing a column about Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi when Nobel laureates and wannabe Nobel laureates, Rajya Sabha MPs and wannabe Rajya Sabha MPs, film stars and wannabe film stars, and sundry other professionals and wannabe professionals are vying for their place in the sun by writing Op-Eds on Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi?

Rahul Gandhi Narendra Modi
Many television and newspaper editors have been told to mention Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi to get better ratings or make columns go viral on social media

As a fair and objective publication, this newspaper could face the wrath of supporters (or trolls, if you prefer that nomenclature) of Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi, both Chosen Ones for their respective constituencies. If you write a column praising Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi’s supporters threaten to kill your wife, rape your female neighbour and feed your insides to Bhola, the abandoned stray dog adopted by the local Good Samaritan. If you praise Rahul Gandhi, then Narendra Modi’s supporters threaten to do exactly the same, except that the local stray may be called Jignesh. Just to be different, they also threaten to post pictures of your daughter with her face morphed into a lingerie model’s almost-naked body.

Not just that, when you announce in public that the supporters of Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi have threatened to kill your wife, rape your neighbour and feed your insides to Bhola (or Jignesh, as the case may be), both sides will demand proof that they have said it. If you provide proof to the supporters of Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi, they will dissect the threats, accuse you of indulging in semantics, and finally prove to you that it was actually you who had threatened to kill your own wife, rape your female neighbour, tear apart your insides and feed them to local abandoned stray dog named Bhola (or Jignesh, as the case may be). And that picture of your daughter, it was you, Sir, who had Photoshopped it.

You cannot win. Unless, of course, if you are Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi because, then you get to cut Rs 500 from your advertising budget for the 2014 general elections each time a Nobel laureate and a wannabe Nobel laureate, a Rajya Sabha MP and a wannabe Rajya Sabha MP, a film star and a wannabe film star, writes a column on Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi, or mentions Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi across TV channels during live and exclusive interviews (a further reduction of Rs 1,000 if both are mentioned in the same column or mentioned simultaneously across TV channels in live and exclusive interviews).

I am told by many that television and newspaper editors have been told by their respective managements to mention Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi as much as possible because they get you good ratings or, at the very least, make your columns go viral on social media. I have not been told by my management yet to mention Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi, which is why I am writing a column that does not mention Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi.

Why should one fall foul of the management when they have not asked you to write about Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi, no? I, too, have a family, and I have to save my job to save for my daughter’s education in the United States. Provided, of course, that she gets a visa and 65 members of Parliament don’t write to some future US President in 2030 to deny her one just because I wrote a column praising Narendra Modi in 2013. As Plan B, I am teaching her everything about appeasing minorities and the right posture to use while eating at a Dalit’s house, just like Rahul Gandhi. What if she decides to get into youth politics or something at 43?

So now you know why I am tired of Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. It was important that I write a column without mentioning either Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi. I sincerely hope that these reasons were good enough to prove to our readers that you can write a column these days without mentioning Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi. This newspaper, after all, is fair and objective.

Sachin Kalbag is Executive Editor of MiD DAY. He tweets at @SachinKalbag 

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