Kerala chief minister Pinarayai Vijayan's uneasy relationship with the media is no secret. Being the political leader who must have used the phrase 'media syndicate' the most, Pinarayi's rude behavior to mediapersons in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday is hardly a surprise to anyone tracking his complex relationship with scribes.
However, the sharp contrast between Pinarayi's arrogant words at journalists on Monday and his all-smiling face during the run-up to the Assembly polls which ascended him to the CM's throne stands stark. Pinarayi said 'get out' to the TV cameramen and reporters who were at the Mascot Hotel to cover a meeting between him and the leaders of the RSS and the BJP following the murder of a Sangh Parivar activist in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday.
That the chief minister was in no mood for such a meeting, which he was forced to convene following an unusual 'summoning' by the governor on Sunday to discuss the law and order situation, was evident from his behavior. As reports of Pinarayi's true color, that of his pre-CM days, came out, the chief minister's office issued a statement which was as weird as the CM's conduct. The CMO explained that the media had not been invited to the meet; as if the presspersons cover events or incidents only on producing an invite card.
The media, in fact, were not covering the event but only capturing the arrival of the CM and other dignitaries to the meeting. Obviously, they would have stayed outside once the closed-room meeting started and waited for the leaders to come out, and more importantly, for the inside-sources as they would do under any circumstance. However, the CM, with his premature behavior, sent out a signal that the meeting was so confidential that they were about to discuss something the public should not know about. Honorable chief minister, weren't you there to take a step forward in your bid to ensure peace in the state? Were you so wary of a few photographs and video clips in which you might have seen shaking hands or sharing a smile with your arch rival Sangh leaders, of course under forced circumstances? From the past, we have learnt enough that such photo-op gestures have brought no relief for the public. Even then such a photograph would have moved the warring followers of the rival parties a bit; though it would not subdue the spirit of violence the leaders, of all colors, have injected in them with their non-stop call for revenge.
One can easily understand the frustration that the CM has been undergoing after being apparently put in the dock with the gubernatorial intervention, which signals the Center's keen interest to paint his government in bad light. But the display of such frustration only questions the confidence of not only the CM, but also of the people who elected his government.
Next time, the comrades voice for press freedom, the Mascot Hotel episode is sure to frown upon you.
(Views are personal)