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Machhapuchre Bank

The Media Again

Prismatic Nepal has its cauldron boiling. Pandora’s Box is old hat here. Upendra Yadav, once portrayed by the very media as the Tarai’s Loktantric discovery shooting to power pinnacles as repeated Deputy Prime Minister and party boss and flush with the success of having pocketed that loktantric icon Dr. Baburam Bhattarai in his new party merger is now under media loktantric scrutiny. He not only walked out of a popular television grilling but his party goons followed it with muscle flexing, smashing the television channel’s Birgunj studio and office branch. All this was done at time when government intent is under severe media scrutiny over media policies and new bills. Resort to the self regulatory media authority by the television channel for justice, instead, found fault with the media and was silent on the muscle and the concerned tv anchor claims he has been threatened. Understandably, what was being seen as restrictive signals now is already sending shivers down the spines and even government affiliated media evidently bracing for the backlash. This is the same media that jumped to assume the vanguard of change in the political change of 1990 and that of 2006. Current topic, once again, revolves around media laws and freedoms.
That it did do so some five years after the restoration of multi party democracy in 1990 and the topic was allowed to brew until the 2006 change is conveniently forgotten in the process. The Panchayat’s simple laws on the media came under scrutiny at time of referendum and after and politics was not allowed to cope with media demands; the long gestation compelled political attention during the monarchy’s takeover provoking partisan media to toe the party line in 2006. We are once again trying to define what is partisan and what is professional by media laws and political action. In actual fact this political attention has been provoked by the demands of professional in the media which can no longer ignore the growing tides of disenchantment on the streets that is increasingly proving beyond party reach and credible media control. As predictable as this may be, there is food for thought for much more in the incident. Why should the catalyst be Upendra Yadav? Was the provocation deliberate?
Opposition to new government media policies aside, the focus perhaps should be on this. Yadav’s is the only tarai’s party in government while the rest of the tarai parties which rendered government their vote not participating in it and threatening to take to the streets are gradually mustering support for change. More than eyebrows have been raised at Yadav’s choice of a strange bedfellow in Dr. Baburam Bhattarai who dusted himself off communism and saw the constitution as incomplete but has now managed by the new partnership to regain proximity in government through Yadav. A media which saw no anomaly a decade back in comrade Prachanda going public with Girija Koirala goading him to target candidates who dared contest elections conducted by the government chaired by the king now cannot be immune to Yadav’s workers despoiling media premises. As we have been saying, the muscle is very much there is mainstream politics and it worked most at time of political change which perhaps also helped to tame the media. We are where we are, aren’t we?

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