SOCIAL MEDIA .. Kerala CM takes new hit; Yechury forces him to dump controversial media law


TVM/NEW DELHI: Kerala’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan took a fresh hit on Monday, when he took back a controversial new police law that was introduced  in the guise of controlling the social media in the state. With the central CPIM leadership quickly stepping in to prove a point against the CM, there was a sudden about-turn on the part of the CM who held the police (home) department under him for the past nearly five years.

The new law brought forward by the government a day ago gave powers to the police to arrest those who publicised matters via social media that hurt anyone personally, indulged in character-assassination etc. It was widely pointed out by critics including media and the Opposition that this will be tantamount to unleashing the police against even those who engage in fair criticism of government, institutions and individuals. Chances were more that the police would be tempted use it as a new weapon to muscle-flex those who run social media units either individually or as part of campaign groups. In fact, social media is all about campaign, mostly to rile against wrong tendencies in politics and public life. They tend to go overboard too, but this too is acceptable as no one used to take it very seriously in the past. Now, however, social media is a powerful instrument, more powerful than established media which mostly hesitate to call a spade a spade.

Notably, the new policing rule was brought forward even as the CPIM at the national level is campaigning against alleged attempts by the Modi government to muzzle the media and the free press in the country. Criticism is integral to the smooth functioning of democracy. However, there have been instances wherein social media outlets went engaged in calumny — as in the case of a vlogger in the state capital recently “exposing” the double-face of feminists and speaking openly about the personal lives of some feminist women in the state, including a dubbing artiste, Bhagyalakshmi. What he stated might or might not be true. The public has no means to check and find out.Apparently, the CM thought it fit to use this as an opportunity to control the social media with the police force, especially in a scenario in which so many alleged wrong-doings of the government are getting public display on a daily basis even on the established media, and the social media picking the thread from there and lambasting the LDF government and the CM in the state. 


There is also a possibility of some of the CM’s media advisers prompted the CM to go in for such controls at the behest of the celebrity lobby in the capital which wanted to punish the vlogger who exposed private lives of prominent individuals in public life. The celebrities — who mostly have double lives — feared that tomorrow they could be targeted and exposed by such vloggers. The army of corrupt politicians, though they too were in the forefront to oppose the new police law on Sunday, quietly found some solace. However, CPIM general secretary Sitaram Yechury and the central party leadership quickly intervened and got a promise from the CM that he would withdraw the controversial new law. The law was taken back on Monday.SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media is a new frenzy. There are not enough special laws to control it, and laws will come about in due course, as and when situations so warrant.

However, a state government seeking to jump the gun and introduce its own laws in this respect was uncalled for. It could be agreed that there has to be a central law, uniform in its make and applicable to situations across India. At the same time, the Constitutionally granted freedom of expression to all citizens need be maintained as well. One has to take a careful course forward. Nothing justified an activism on the part of the CM in this respect.Moreover, India’s problem is that it has a surfeit of laws — parliaments and state legislatures producing new laws and effecting amendments even when there are no serious requirement for such new laws.  With the result, the judiciary in India is so confused and have the luxury to interpret rules as per their whims. One law contradicts another. Fact is, existing laws cover all aspect of human behaviour, and most cases can be handled within the framework of the existing law. Where attention is required is for situations like reforms in various sectors. The Modi government introduced the market reforms — unifying taxation systems across India through the GST. That has its flaws, but thse can be rectified over a period of time. 

Police in India has all the powers vested in it to handle any situation of lawlessness and threat to social well-being. More laws will only give them more opportunities to do muscle-flexing, harass citizens and fleece them with huge sums as bribes. It is safe to assume that Pinarayi Vijayan’s advisers led him up the garden path. Now, he has egg on his face. He had a loss of face while those like Sitaram Yechury who were waiting in the sidelines to pounce on the CM got a good opportunity to “correct” him. Yechury’s obsessions, as a Communist leader, are mostly with protecting freedom of people (an elitist enterprise) and protecting the Secular credentials of the nation, meaning siding with the minority Muslim organisations in place and out of place — as in the agitation against the Citizenship Amendment Act. He hardly ever speaks up for the poor or the disadvantaged sections, who require support from progressive elements in the society. This is hardly coming by from the Left in India, which has been hijacked by the likes of Yechury, Prashant Bhushan and some media groups, online, print and visual. 

The CPIM was in the forefront of opposing the CAA. The CAA was a requirement of the times, in view of the massive inflow of the poor from Bangladesh etc to seek work, while Indians lazied their time away. Yechury is also in the forefront of “protecting” the rights of anti-social and anti-India enterprises in Kashmir, who are indulging in violence and mayhem against the nation for decades, which were not effectively checked by the Congress-led governments. Why a special status for a state for long years is a valid question, which the Modi government answered with courage. The Modi government is a failure on taking the economy forward and in changing India for the better in most respects. But, what was done in Kashmir was lauded by sections from the Opposition too. However, Yechury is not of any help in ending the unrest in Kashmir, it would appear. He is more into championing the causes of freedom and secularism.


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