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From reporting news to being the news
The road from journalism to politics is an oft-travelled one. When AAP’s LS candidate from New Delhi Ashish Khetan goes out campaigning, AAP volunteers are quick to retrace his journey to politics. They speak of the news reports he broke, and the difference they made.
Khetan himself, though, speaks of his stint as a journalist as a time “when little difference was made”. His sentiments find an echo with the other journalist-turned-politicians of the AAP.
At least three of the AAP’s Lok Sabha candidates are former journalists. Apart from Khetan, there is Ashutosh from Chandni Chowk and Jarnail Singh from West Delhi.
Khetan worked as a journalist for over 15 years before foraying into politics. He used to run a website, gulail.com, which mostly carried investigative stories. Dwindling funds, however, forced the website to shut down.
Khetan’s years of wielding a pen has, however, come in handy for his Lok Sabha campaign. During his campaign, AAP workers can be seen distributing pamphlets listing the scams exposed by Khetan, alongside his qualifications and photograph.
‘Nidar aur bahadur khoji patrakaar; post-graduate’ — the title in bold letters says. It lists the top stories Khetan reportedly broke — Nira Radia tapes that exposed the nexus between industrialists and politicians; coal scam and the PMO’s alleged involvement in it; Modi snoop-gate. The flyer claims that the Delhi High Court had lauded Khetan for his work.
Khetan feels otherwise. At a gathering last week, he told his supporters that in his 15 years as a journalist, he had done many stories but only five per cent of them had any impact. “Ninety-five per cent stories could not make any impact. Then, about a year ago, I decided to do ‘activist journalism’. I filed public interest litigations, concentrated on investigative reports. But of the 100 PILs I filed, only 1-2 cases made some difference. That is when I decided to enter politics so that I could bring about change.”
The journalistic credentials are coming in handy for the other two contestants as well. During a constituency walk around Fatehpuri Masjid in Chandni Chowk, AAP workers introduced Ashutosh by his journalistic credentials.
A worker with a microphone said, “Aap ke beech hain AAP ke ummedwar Ashutosh. Bharat ke mashhoor patrakar, aur IBN7 ke poorv sampadak, jo aaj aapke beech ek mamoomli karyakarta banke apki seva karne ke liye apke paas aayen hain…” (In your midst, is AAP’s Ashutosh, India’s famous journalist and IBN7’s former editor, who has today joined you as a common party worker to serve you).
Another supporter screamed from behind a smiling Ashutosh shaking hands with shopkeepers, “Miliye varishth patrakar jinhone apne ucch star ki naukri chori, aap logon continued…