Sunday, 14 October 2012

Salman Khurshid's Saviour Rangi Mistry

Law Minister Mr Salman Khurshid on his return from his trip to London held a close to 100 minute press conference to explain his side of the story on the allegations of impropriety in the business conducted by an NGO run by him and his wife Mrs Louise Khurshid. The NGO named after Mr Khurshid's grand father and former president of India Mr Zakir Husaain gets grants from the government and distributes aids to poor handicaps in several districts of Uttar Pradesh including his home district.

During the press conference in his defence Mr Khurshid tried to prove that the aid distribution camps which were supposed to have taken place and were being suggested did not take place, indeed did take place. He gave some photographic evidence that camps were held. Some other documents were shared with the media like the utilization certificate and certain bills of the equipment purchased by the trust. Regarding the CAG inspection report he mentioned that since the auditor never reached him or his wife he had not been able to share the accounts of the trust with the auditor, but will do so now. He ignored all attempts to get him to make a statement against India Against Corruption or to reply to the questions raised by group. One was also witness to the repeated annoyance Mr Khurshid had with his aids since the most important participants of the press conference had not yet arrived. They were part of Mr Khurshid's 'Counter Sting' on the India Today group.

When the press conference was opened for questions it was essentially reduced to a slanging match between Mr Khurshid and the India Today Editor Mr Deepak Sharma who had conducted the investigative news story named 'Operation Dhritarashtra' by Aaj Tak and other reporters of the same group. At a point in the conference Mr Salman Khurshid even lost his temper with the journalist Mr Deepak Sharma and asked him to leave. He later resumed the press conference repeatedly asking the other journalist present that he would speak if the India Today journalist shuts up. For anyone who has witnessed the press conference it is quite clear that most of the other journalist present in the press conference were either not ready with questions to ask to the law minister or never got chance.

But the 'Hero' of Mr Khurshid's press conference made a dramatic entry at the very end of the press conference and seemingly left some in the media quite speechless with his one liner that came after repeated probing by Khurshid and his workers. This was Mr Rangi Mistry a seemingly destitute old man who was wearing a white hearing aid and looked overwhelmed by the occasion initially. It was clear that he could not hear very well. When he was asked by Mr Khurshid that 'these people are saying that you never got any thing', he replied 'I had got, two years back I had got, but it was not working properly so I said I had not got, hoping that I will get another. ' The statement was greeted with clapping from Mr Khurshid's supporters and Mr Khurshid himself while Ms Louise Khurshid held her hand to her head.

Whether or not Mr Khurshid has managed to prove his innocence or the guilt of India Today group in trying to 'frame' him as he claims is another matter, what he has indeed managed to do is that like an accomplished lawyer in the court of the media he has managed to turn at least one witness hostile and that witness his saviour is Mr Rangi Mistry whose credibility now is in question thanks to his own contradictory statements, one in front of the Aaj tak camera and the other in front of many more TV camera's. Whether the two statements made by Mr Mistry was under some influence or his own independent display of somersault we will perhaps never know. But we all know now that the star of Mr Khurshid press conference Mr Rangi Mistry is now a spent bullet, although strangely a bullet that has been fired twice once at Mr Khurshid and then again by Mr Khurshid at the India Today Media Group.

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