How Media Made Muthalik
Mangalore is the flavour of the season. It is now more famous than Madrid! Muthalik is hogging the headlines across India. Is he just a media creation or a real self made ' Hindu ' leader? I am sure not many people (including the majority in media) knew him before his goons in the garb of ' Rama Sainiks ' dragged and mercilessly thrashed girls at a pub in Mangalore, a fortnight ago. This nation wide publicity was totally unexpected for Muthalik and his brigade. Attack on a pub in Mangalore was just a routine matter and they were expecting a photo and three paragraphs in some local newspapers the next day. Even in his wildest dreams, Muthalik didn't expect that all hell would break lose, the next day. Muthalik was not a known name even in his home state Karnataka till his ' monkey ' brigade vandalised and beat up girls in the full glare of TV media.
A young, hep girl in Mumbai's Malabar hill to a high heeled chic in South Delhi .......... American English speaking member of a ' pink cheddi ' brigade on Bangalore's Brigade road to a helloji blonde at Chandigarh's 17 Sector ........... Muthalik is now on every lips..............
The journalists in Karnataka had started to ignore him and his 3 page press releases cum 60 minute non-stop nonsense adress 5-6 years back. Muthalik used to make rounds of all newspaper offices and TV channels for a single column news and a 30 second air space. Not more than a dozen journalists (half of them non - working!) would attend his press conferences full of vitriolic attacks on other religions and modern fellow Hindus.
I first met Muthalik exactly 10 years ago. I was just out of college with a Post Graduate degree in journalism and looking for a job. I had gone to a hostel in Bangalore to meet a friend from Bijapur in north Karnataka and found Muthalik sleeping on his bed! I didn't even know who he was. He introduced himself to me and told me that he was a Bhajrang Dal leader.
I forgot him on the same day. There was nothing special in him to remember. I was just 3 weeks into my reporting job and sent to cover half a dozen press conferences at the press club. Muthalik was there to address a press conference on the disputed Bababudangiri - Datta Peetha issue and thundered that he was going to make it Ayodhya of South. Most reporters just laughed at him and left. Muthalik had recognised me and used all his skills to impress me for a 3 column news. That news had appeared on page 3 or 4 and Muthalik was more than happy.
I used to meet him at least once a month at press club or at some news paper office. He would always invite me for a cup of Coffee or Tea. But, I never accepted that, not because I had something against him. I was not just ready to listen to his 90 minute non-stop boring lecture!
He came to see me in mid - 2000. He was frustrated and angry because he was not getting the publicity and desired position in the Sangh Parivar. He was talking in a low voice. He was bitter about the ' use and throw ' policy of some of his right wing leaders and the BJP. He was even planning to quit all that do something else in life.
I came to Delhi in the late 2001. I met him again at a Karnataka BJP MP's house on South Avenue a month later. That MP was having his breakfast and Muthalik was sitting outside sipping a cup of tea. He was happy to see me there. He complained to me that the MP was treating him like dirt after taking his help to win elections and he would teach a lesson to all ' namak haraam ' leaders. After a few minutes, MP came out to greet me and Muthalik flew into a rage. He used all obscene words in his dictionary to abuse him. He was invisible for almost 6 months after that. I thought that he had quit ' public service ' and returned home to till land.
I heard his name again in late 2002. He had launched a no holds barred attack on his fellow BJP and RSS leaders for ignoring him and taking all credit for the work he actually did.
He left Sangh Parivar (they say he was booted out!) two years later. According to state BJP leaders he was terribly angry after they denied him a party ticket to fight Lok Sabha/Assembly polls in 2004.
Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray made him Karnataka unit chief of Shiv Sena. But, the Sangh parivar and BJP were too happy to get rid of him. Nobody cared two hoots for him. He was forced to leave Shiv Sena after Thackeray made some remarks on the dead issue of Belgaum. Muthalik was jobless for sometime. I don't know who sowed the seeds of Sri Rama Sene in his head. He was back in his new Avtar as the founder of Sri Rama Sene in Karnataka. He and his hooligans made some noise by taking active part in communal clashes and protest against Ram Sethu. He even held a news conference to release the photographs his Hindu ' suicide ' squad. But, nothing made him a front page or a headline 'material' even within Karnataka.
Muthalik's men had done many things much bigger and more cruel than the pub attack in the past. But, our ' national ' media was not interested in a man called Pramod Muthalik. He was too small for them.
Perhaps, Muthalik knew that his day would certainly come one day and never stopped his hate campaign. His " moment of glory " came on the evening of 24th January. When he was away addressing a Brahmins' conference in Pune, two dozen followers of Sri Rama Sene descended on Amnesia pub in Mangalore with or without his knowledge. Rest is now history.
Prime Time interviews on national television channels, 3 page features on Sunday specials of national dailies, special articles in foreign newspapers, main topic of thousands of blogs across the globe and a headline news material for weeks ........... Muthalik is now omnipresent. He is now basking in the new glory. He has bitten off more than he can chew. For this, he is ready to spend 6 months in a jail, not just 5 days.
Girls of ' pink cheddi ' brigade, you can now send him your Valentine's day gift. Muthalik will gladly accept it! Pramod Muthalik must know that those who live by media will die by it. Should we blame media or Muthalik for all this madness?
POSTSCRIPT - Pink chaddis reduced it to a joke. Media and people should stop reacting to Muthalik. He will disappear. Publicity is all that he has. Sadly, media are as crazy as that Muthalik.
More about D P SatishD P Satish has been a journalist for the past 14 years. Born at the picturesque Jog Falls in Shimoga district of Karnataka, Satish did his graduation in English Literature. He is a post-graduate in Journalism from the prestigious Asian College of Journalism, Bangalore (now in Chennai). After a brief stint with the Indian Express Group, he shifted to TV. He also worked for an American news magazine called ' Image '. He has widely travelled and covered some of the biggest events from South of Vindhyas in the first decade of the 21st century. He is passionate about English literature, classical music, cinema, history, photography, jazz and Cricket. A self-proclaimed centrist, Satish keenly follows major political developments from across the World. He blogs regularly and spends hours searching for readable material from the Internet! He belives that journalism is a calling and a person meant to be a journalist, can't escape from it. A hillman at heart and by birth, Satish lives and works in New Delhi. But, loves Bangalore more than Delhi!
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