While politician Arvind Kejriwal was busy moving from one press conference against Robert Vadra to another, one electricity patching campaign to another, I became the latest in a series of dissenting voices he chose to black out. I’ve known and written on Arvind for nearly two years. Increasingly, my reports were scathing because they pointed out Arvind’s double-speak. The difference between his claims and the reality – how his `people-speak’ was really a mask for `Arvind-speak.’ And so, after his party was launched, all subsequent invites for the press conferences were deliberately not sent to me. When I called his close aide and friend, Shazia Ilmi for an explanation, here’s what she said – “You can make up evidence to go along with your opinions. Go ask Salman Khurshid for answers, why are you calling us? I won’t check to see if you’ve been blocked or not because the word doing the rounds is that you are just a cog in the Tehelka wheel, you poor thing, carrying out orders from the top.” The newly formed party that stands for the voice of dissent, of freedom of speech and the right to raise questions does not like it at all when questions are raised about them. I wrote the following letter to Arvind, to which I have as yet got no reply. If you feel I have a valid point to make, join this blog campaign and forward this letter to Arvind’s email id – email@example.com and see if you get the answer I’ve failed to.
Sent on October 5th:
I am writing to you not just with my Tehelka hat on but in my personal capacity as someone who has interacted with you for nearly two years. Today, I was out and about town reporting and came back to discover a press conference had been held of which I had absolutely no clue. The IAC team’s customary sms didn’t come this time. I rang Aswati to ask if this was an error or deliberate and got the following reply – ‘I’ll check and let you know.’
The above would be fine if it didn’t come after a long series of silences that makes me ask – have I done anything out of line? In my own reckoning, I have not. I have been scathing and very tough on you in my pieces but I have always been open about that and transparent in my dissent. I feel that is worthy of respect, since you are also fighting for exactly that space – transparency and dissent even if it means saying things that could make your relationships with people around uncomfortable.
I ask you and your team to consider why I need be singled out for not being called to press conferences? Whether that displays the tenacity and maturity you have otherwise always displayed in ours and in fact all media interactions.
I completely understand if you choose not to grant me individual time for an interview. The public space of a press conference is surely something I could be extended if only as an equal member of the fraternity as those who perhaps write favourably of you?
I use this opportunity to also congratulate you on the formation of your party. How it came about and why and much of it is what I don’t agree with, but I do still wish you the best in all sincerity and constantly look for being proved wrong. That is what I tried calling to tell you the other day – I wasn’t trying to eke out time for an interview. It was only a person to person call to say congrats. I disagree but salute your tenacity.
Am attaching the link here to my latest piece on you.