The Uttarakhand Politico-Legal Battle: and Indian Media's Very Own Crisis of Credibility - Nirendra Dev

Nirendra Narayan Dev Editor's Note: Nirendra Narayan Dev (nirendev1 [at] gmail [dot] com), an acclaimed senior political journalist, is an Assistant Editor with newswire 'Indo-Asian News Service' (IANS). He has been a special correspondent of The Statesman, New Delhi and is the author of acclaimed books including Modi to Moditva, Ayodhya : Battle For Peace, The Talking Guns North East India and Godhra A Journey To Mayhem. Nirendra was born and brought up in India's northeast and his father served with paramilitary force Assam Rifles. His blog is at

We have previously had an opportunity of talking to the author and have posted the audio recording of the interview.

WBRi also has the pleasure of publishing a series of short stories by Nirendra. Search with keywords "Nirendra Dev" to read his prior stories and articles on Washington Bangla Radio.

What is journalism, what does it mean in our lives? Why should it mean anything?

On this backdrop let us take a closer view at Uttarakhand development, the fierce legal battle and the media coverage.

The over enthusiasm among sickular brigade has yet again led us to sub-standard journalism. The question 'why'  is immaterial as the enthusiasm is linked to Narendra Modi bashing.


Read: Indian Economy: Governance Model - and If I were Narendra Modi - by Nirendra Dev

That Uttarakhand High Court verdict was harsh on Narendra Modi made all and sundry happy...especially Namo baiters. And hence the excitement prevailed ---- for them high court verdict was equivalent to sending Modi to gallows.

Even the likes of Subramanian Swamy got an opportunity and lashed out at Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi, no friend of Swamy obviously!

So immature reporting surfaced – almost in the manner 19-year-old Kanhaiya Kumar became a threat to India’s incumbent prime minister! Harish Rawat became instantly a chief minister. Even popular media organizations, supposed to thrive on credibility the vital C of A,B,C of journalism started addressing Harish Rawat as chief minister.

My perception is that the quick conclusion that Harish Rawat 'returns' as CM interpretation itself was wrong. My logic is not based on any scholarly knowledge on legal matters. It was only logical. Rawat could return in official sense only after revokation of President’s Rule by President and there should have been a Governor's order.

The argument is again logical. Court is only a judiciary, a key pillar of democracy and executive powers are with President and Governor – and a popular government in office – incidentally that’s headed by Narendra Modi.

Rawat himself walked into a trap of media hype and ill-advice by master in that art – Kapil Sibal. To refresh memories, Sibal as the union minister had threatened “we can rein in” Baba Ramdev theory and poor P Chidambaram implemented it. The result is 2014 electoral drubbing – in the ultimate.

But artful self-obsessed intellectuals of national capital do not learn any lesson. Sibal is one of them who even takes credit for losing a battle. So his advice along with Ambika Soni to otherwise innocuous Harish Rawat, the "hill man", was to preside over the reins of power. It is altogether the Governor should not have allowed such a "cabinet meeting". It remains to be found whether Chief Secretary took an approval from the Raj Bhavan before rolling out the red carpet for Rawat's "cabinet meetings". Incidentally, the Congress enthusiasm was so much that they took two cabinet sittings.

Worse part is Rawat presided cabinet meetings even without written order from the court. Should not the chief secretary attract disciplinary actions?

By interpretation that high court order was good enough to take charge – my case is, if I win a case against my brother--- the land becomes not absurd” ....The court order actually only PAVES MY WAY TO GET THE LAND.

So correct reporting would have been: HC order paves the way for return of Rawat.

But the game was elsewhere -- that was in excitement that Modi has been thrashed by the court orders. Hence, secular intellectuals went ballistic. We forgot courts only have recommendation power. Executives have the liberty to challenge it in higher court or abide without resisting.

Poor standard of English journalism prevailed.

Even a former MP Kuldip Nayyar was wrong, I am afraid. I spoke to him and filed a story, wherein he told me:

"The ruling makes it clear that Harish Rawat was wrongly removed as chief minister. His position as the leader of the house and the chief minister has been restored now," Nayyar said.

But some other experts I spoke to were reasonable. They were modest guys -- unlike Somnath Chatterjee variety self-righteous intellectuals or Arvind Kejriwal's wisdom school.

Especially those inclined towards the Bharatiya Janata Party and the central government had disagreed on Rawat's status on Thursday (Aprril 21) "pending revocation" of the President's Rule.

So, that Rawat called midnight cabinet meetings and took several decisions does not mean he had the right. Governor did not act. Actually he remained passively inactive --- this raises bonafide questions about his intentions. K K Paul, is a Congress appointee and so that means he too could be wrong.

Why Modi government is soft peddling on replacing Paul, a former Delhi police commissioner, is another puzzle.

The observation made during the hearing in the Supreme Court, by Justice Shiva Kirti Singh: “If I were the High Court judge, I would have made my judgment operational only after three or four days when it is signed and ready. It is more on propriety than legality. Governance of a state cannot be left in the lurch” – is actually a very powerful message.

This should not be ignored.