It was a moment of euphoria when the whole of India, and a significant little bit of the US, were looking with expectations at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US visit, especially his address at the packed hall of Madison Square Gardens. The limelight was supposed to be on Modi and what he is going to speak. Top-billed as a mega event, almost everyone had landed up for the glitzy event, all agog to hear the man speak. This was supposed to his moment through and through.
But just like Jayalalitha’s conviction had overshadowed his UNGA address, there was another event which almost did the same to the Madison Square address. Just an hour before Modi took to stage another news broke out, that veteran editor Rajdeep Sardesai had been assaulted by a mob at the venue.
The script was so jarringly repetitive, saffron fanatics hitting out at people who ‘disagree’, trying to muffle out the voices. The sad part was that this was happening in America. As, you could hear Rajdeep say, “Something and some people don’t change”.
Not surprisingly, the news was picked up by many, people were tweeting, retweeting and belabouring the conduct of the so-called Modi Bhakts, and there wanton acts. There were aspersions being thrown of how sane and sensible voices are being progressively silenced under the new regime. It was indeed a shameful event, something we all should be ashamed off.
Suddenly Rajdeep, who was just another media star in a star-studded affair in NY, was now trending and popular. By a quirk of fate, he had stolen the limelight from Àrnab Goswami, Barkha Dutt and Bhupendra Choubey, all of who were diligently trying to cover the event and raise the stakes. By their wanton act the Modi Bhakts had given the Modi baiters a good chance to draw the attention away.
But then, as the dust settled on the matter, and the time progressed, conflicting stories started to emerge. You know there, were these small mobile clips, where Rajdeep could be seen exchanging blows (rather trying to) than just receiving them in Buddhic acceptance. As time passed, there were more clips and more testimonials that hinted at a bigger story that what one got at first measure.
To be fair, it was not really an assault (battery, mugging, slap) as many were claiming it. Indeed there was a scuffle, but as is the case, both parties seem to be responsible for the same. Just like there are two sides of the coin, there were two sides of the story. The subsequent revelation really did make you think whether Rajdeep was a victim or an insinuator of the assault.
For instance, according to “first-hand accounts” (unverifiable), Rajdeep had been asking some very lame and provocative questions to the crowd. Sample this:
- “How much did you pay for the tickets, tell me honestly”
- “Did Narendra Modi teach you to scream and behave badly?”
- “Do you think this is a PM of India or PM of BJP?”
- “Considering 70% of the voters didn’t vote for Modi, what do have to say to them?
As the matter got hot and the crowd started shouting anti-Rajdeep slogans (read no abuses, only slogans), Rajdeep stood his ground, not trying to pacify, but trying to ask a counter question. When he could not, he seemed to snap, and then moved on in a huff.
Here’s how the conversation went: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjIW0DjaCh8
In between he even managed to pass on a snide comment about class and people (this was earlier, as he is still wearing the jacket): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7F1XP9I49Fw&feature=youtu.be
It is at this point, when the supposed assault took place. Rajdeep was here, assaulted as he claimed.
But then in another video clip, you can clearly see, Rajdeep walking away amidst the sloganeering, only to return threateningly, and then push a person who pushed back. Clearly, in this clip, it is Rajdeep who seemed to have made the first move. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF-hXNojV1w
So, now that gets us to the moot question, as to who assaulted whom? Was it an assault on Rajdeep? Or was it on truth?
Because even after the little scuffle here, the crowd of vile bhakts behaved in a very civilised manner and did not get into the melee, but out-shouted him. In fact, after Rajdeep flexing his muscles (aka Arnold style), things could have really gone much bad, but did not. In fact, post the little twitch, there were organisers who approached Rajdeep and even apologised to him (which should have been other way round). That should have been the end of the matter.
But then, Rajdeep and his channels thought of milking the opportunity, talk about an assault, no issues even if it is you who instigated it. There was much publicity and much opportunity. The hashtag #RajdeepSlapped & #IStandWithRajdeep”. There’s even a story there, where #IstandwithRajdeep was trending more than #ModiAtMadison and this almost makes you think, whether that was the very objective, could it be?
Meantime, Rajdeep seems all happy and stuff, and this is what he had to say about the revelations post the incident.
First, Kick and abuse while I am on cam asking questions, then release video selectively. Rule of the mob.
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) September 29, 2014
I truly have my doubts that we haven’t seen the end of the theatrics, like Arnie says, I’ll be Back. I think so will Rajdeep be.
P.S. Here’s one more earlier tweet from Rajdeep that seemed to me more like a Freudian slip of sorts. Have a look:
Great publicity for my book. All those who took selfies have promised to buy it! #ModiAtMadison
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) September 28, 2014