Following the controversy over Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica data leaks, both Organiser and Panchjanya have carried articles on the issue. While Panchjanya’s cover story claims that the Congress had utilised the services of Cambridge Analytica for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the editorial in Organiser writes that not surprisingly, for both individuals and groups, Facebook and other social media platforms have become an important tool for political activism. “Till now we were listening to bots, the dummy followers created to give traction to a leader through false perception of popularity. Now political parties are using the same data to manipulate the public opinion. The Congress Party allegedly hiring Cambridge Analytica for political consultancy has put the national political discourse to the peril of international actors,” reads the editorial, which also claims that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has 40 million followers while Donald Trump has about 20 million followers on his personal page.
“These are not just numbers but a new way applied by democratically elected leaders to get connected with the people,” Organiser asserts.
The cover story of Organiser is about the Karnataka assembly elections schedule, which was announced by the Election Commission recently. The article claims that corruption, the Lingayat card, development, water woes, growing “Jihadi” activities and the law and order situation in the state are the critical issues that will shape the outcome of the election. “Karnataka is known for changing the government every five years,” according to the report.
Though the BJP has emerged as a major challenger for the Congress in the state, like in other parts of the country, the Janata Dal Secular (JDS), which aspires to a kingmaker’s role, cannot be completely neglected. Though the JD(S) has a constant vote-share, it is not enough to win seats. With a depleting organisational structure and the absence of a visible leadership on the ground, the party is expected to lose some influence. Who has gained from this negative vote-swing will largely decide the outcome of the election, according to the report. Since Karnataka is the last large state in South India where the Congress is in power, the article argues, it is literally a battle for survival for the Grand Old Party.
“It is also a test for Rahul Gandhi, as the legitimacy of his new-found love for Hindu pilgrimage to shed the image of being pro-minority will be adjudged by the people. The regional leadership of Congress in the form of Siddaramaiah is also being questioned on many fronts, from corruption to divisive tactics by the opposition. The contradictory signals by the ruling Congress’s Rahul Gandhi visiting the Sringeri Mutt and Siddaramaiah openly indulging in divisive appeasement politics, are also being tested,” claims the report, which adds that upcoming election is also a trial for the new political alignment that is taking shape at the national level: “If Congress fails to take entire opposition along in Karnataka, it will be a question mark on the ability of the party to lead at the national level.”
An article in Organiser claims there is a demand, once again, to create a national agency to protect Church properties from the Poor Christian Liberation Movement. It then goes on to assert that after the detection of financial irregularities in the sale of church land by the Ernakulam Archbishop, Cardinal George Alencherry, this demand has gained strength. It has, however, been opposed by the chairman of the Catholic Bishop Council of India, and Cardinal Oswald Gracias.
“An inquiry committee of the church has charged Cardinal George Alencherry with large-scale financial irregularities in a land deal. The committee has recommended action against him under the revenue and the Canon laws. The accused is one of the seven cardinals in India. It may be mentioned that the Pope is elected from among the Cardinals in the world. The inquiry committee has hence sent its report to Rome,” according to the article, which claims that the inquiry committee report states that in five land deals, Alencherry received Rs 27 crore, but he has confessed to receiving only Rs 9 crore.
“The report says that the Canon laws have been gravely violated which amounts to criminal misconduct and breach of trust. In India never has such charges been levelled against any cardinal,” the article claims.