(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
A righteous Barkha Dutt was ecstatic. An act of new Congress government in Rajasthan made her tweet pompously (see image): "In a deeply unequal country, education is a privilege and lack of universal education a failure of the State. To have educational barriers to contesting elections was regressive and the Gehlot government has done well to overturn it. Next you will say only the educated should vote. Rubbish."
Now Barkha please don't ask me how could I access your twitter handle since you've blocked me. You see my "Piddi" (pet) also has a twitter account and follows you. My only fault is that I provided Piddi with the background on Ashok Gehlot's revolutionary move: The new chief minister of Rajasthan had scrapped minimum-education criteria for candidates in civic and urban polls.
But then my Piddi is not Pappu. His sense of history is strong. He asked: "But wasn't it only the other day when the ecosystem in which Barkha Dutt thrives had called BJP union minister Smriti Irani names for her supposed lack of education?"
They called Irani names alright. Samajwadi Party's strongman Azam Khan had pooh-poohed Irani's educational qualification. Congress leader Ajay Maken was beside himself in anger: He too had tweeted: "What a cabinet of Modi? HRD minister (looking after education) Smriti Irani is not even a graduate." Congress general secretary Gurudas Kamat had called Irani a "kaamwaali bai." The front soldiers of this ecosystem, Lutyens' Media didn't need an invitation to take up the cudgels. The Outlook magazine had a satire penned in Irani's own words: "I was touched by the support extended by the one and only Rakhi Sawant, who, like me, was unsuccessful in contesting the Lok Sabha polls." The First Post was doubly quick to point out that "forget Smriti Irani, there are six other ministers who aren't even 12th passed."
Irani wasn't alone, bad words were reserved for her Prime Minister Narendra Modi too. Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam had added "illiterate" to Modi's name with glee. The entire ecosystem was falling upon each other to show the country was run by illiterates and predicted a doomsday.
Now that Ashok Gehlot has removed education as a criteria for contesting polls, the eco-system is hailing the visionary. The usual suspect Indian Express was first off the blocks with an editorial, patting Gehlot for a good job done. The Hindu made it sound as if it's the biggest thing done to democracy since the French Revolution. It said: "Rajasthan strikes a blow for democracy." The Wire was jubilant at this act of removing a "discriminatory and elitist" rule of the previous BJP government.
So these offenders who had held a noose for Smriti Irani were now upholding a garland for Gehlot. Such is their moral fibre. They wouldn't have written a line questioning the educational qualification of a Sonia Gandhi, Jayalalitha, Rabri Devi, Mayawati, a Phoolan Devi or a Karunanidhi. But bring on Irani or Modi and see their daggers under the cloak.
While we are at the fakery of Barkha Dutt, let me leave you readers with a surgical strike Olympic hero and now a Minister of State (MoS) of Information and Broadcasting ministry, Rajyavardhan Rathore, conducted on Shekhar Gupta on a "misleading" article the latter had printed at the start of the new year. Lest you didn't know, Barkha and Gupta are old collaborators on the news of their own kind.
So this is how the New Year has begun for them. I wish they had taken a resolution to desist from fake news at the start of 2019. So much of muck is hardly healthy.