The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sangh turns 'reality TV' gun on BJP

New Delhi, Nov. 15: The BJP and its president have come in for flak from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh for the party's first brush with 'reality TV' and so has Uma Bharti for defying L.K. Advani.

Uma had last week walked out of a meeting of the BJP's central office-bearers after she demanded and was refused a discussion on stories being spread against her allegedly by some party colleagues. She was subsequently suspended.

A front-page editorial in the latest issue of the RSS mouthpiece, Organiser ' penned by editor R. Balashankar ' said it was unclear why the office-bearers' meeting was telecast live because 'reality TV has its limits and a consequence'.

It advised the BJP to stop being media-obsessed and speak to its cadre directly and not through the media.

The editorial began by saying that the BJP always had to 'live with a hostile media' and that it was a 'victim of media hype'.

'It gets support from the media always for the wrong reasons and it is abused by the media always for its ideology, character and identity.'

But the Organiser believed ' based on the fact that the office-bearers' meeting was televised ' that the circumstances leading to Uma's 'expulsion' (she was actually suspended) could have been different.

'Leaders decide their attitudes on advice from mediapersons. It is one thing to be media-savvy, another to be captivated by the media,' said the article by Balashankar, who believed that the BJP was guilty of the latter.

His analysis was that journalists get to know more about leaders than voters do. 'And this develops in them a certain weariness, even contempt for politicians who talk high. For, most people in politics are men with feet of clay.'

Balashankar, a journalist for long who has worked with mainline newspapers and magazines, said that over time, leaders get so trapped in their images created by the media that they refuse to look at other perceptions.

'It is said that great parties fall prey to media shenanigans,' he wrote. In the BJP, he added, 'personal egos (of leaders) should give way to national ego' ' which was defined as the 'common good'.

There was, however, hope for Uma, Advani and the party itself. The editorial described the sadhvi as 'impulsive' but 'dynamic, honest and committed to high ideals'.

In a leg-up to Advani, the editorial spoke of unity and discipline as the key to the BJP's revamp. It was 'time to close ranks, forget personal hurts and work as one', it added.

'The BJP can do this, provided it submerges individual ego at the altar of the greater vision. Discipline in the party has to prevail and so has the cause.'

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