Lost In Space

Shahid Siddiqui. Journalist, politician, connoisseur of Urdu culture and Islamic traditions? Or just an alien?

WrittenBy:Sunayana Singh
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So who is this Shahid Siddiqui?  Are you kidding me? What do you mean who is he? The man was more popular in India in the last two weeks than Narendra Modi himself! In fact, as far as getting publicity is concerned, he’s surpassed even the Kardashians.  If elections were around the corner, he would probably win.

WHO IS HE AND WHAT DID HE DO?? He interviewed Narendra Modi recently for his weekly newspaper Nai Duniya, of which he is the owner and editor-in-chief.

So? So??? Hello!! So, scoop of the year! Who else do you know who has sat Modi down and grilled him post the Gujarat riots? Even if its entirely for self-serving TRP purposes and self-promotion.

Why is everyone after his life? Oh that. Well the political party he was part of – the Samajwadi Party – is furious, because they represent the Muslims (supposedly). And their supposed Muslim supporters (vote bank) would be upset at a member of the SP interviewing an (alleged) Muslim killer. So they disowned him and claimed he was not even part of the party. In return, Siddiqui accused the party of shooting the messenger.

The messenger of what? The messenger of…actually I’m not really sure. But ever since the interview, the English press has gone hammer and tongs at him. Almost as if he’s responsible for the Gujarat riots!

Stinks of jealousy to me. Damn right it does! No one else managed to snag Modi and get him to talk about the riots and most importantly – look Modi in the eye! Which Siddiqui has sworn that he did whilst asking the toughest of all questions on the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Gutsy fellow. That could’ve been dangerous. Ya, and he even told Modi that there would be no walking out (refer to Karan Thapar’s interview of Modi and that he had to answer the questions, and if he didn’t then he would have to say that he didn’t want to. Cut to the Nai Duniya headline that screamed “Hang Me If I’m guilty”.

But who is Shahid Siddiqui? How has he suddenly materialised out of nowhere? Well, there are several theories.

Theories? What theories? Well there is a strong rumour that an intergalactic force jettisoned an escape pod from one of its vessels hovering over the earth, and in this escape pod was Shahid Siddiqui – sent to earth to wreak havoc amongst the defenders of secularism.

So he’s an alien? Yes and he’s grown that mop of hair to hide his antennae.

I think I want to hear the other theories. Oh ok then. Shahid Siddiqui’s official bio will tell you that he was born on August 15, 1949 in Ballimaran, Old Delhi.

You mean as in the lyrics of the song Kajra Re – “Ballimaran se daribe talat!” Cool! Sure. It’s also where Ghalib was born, but never mind. His resumé would also tell you (and these are not my words) that, “He opened his eyes in the composite atmosphere of Urdu culture and Islamic traditions”. (Cue ghazals). He “belongs to a family of nationalist Muslims from Ghazipur (UP) and his father, Maulana Abdul Waheed Siddiqui started his first Urdu paper in 1916 and worked very closely with the leaders of the Indian Freedom Movement such as Maulana Azad, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Rafi Ahmed Kidwai.” In fact, daddy Siddiqui is regarded as the father of modern Urdu journalism in India. (According to his son).

Irshad. Also Shahid started writing in Urdu at the age of 12.

Rather late if you ask me. He edited his first political fortnightly at the age of 19 and went on to do his Masters in Political Science from the University of Delhi in 1974 where he set a new record by scoring 86% marks in Political Philosophy.

Must be the alien advantage. He joined Delhi University as a Lecturer in 1974 and continued till 1986 when he resigned due to “journalistic pressures”.

What are journalistic pressures? Hell do I know! Go ask some journalist. He regularly writes on national integration, minority issues and secularism in English and Hindi newspapers. All I know is that Nai Duniya (Urdu weekly), Nai Zameen (Hindi weekly), Daily Awam (Urdu – obviously daily), and the monthly Roshan Shama edited by Shahid Siddiqui have all along “fought the communal, narrow-minded and fanatic religious forces both in minority and majority communities”.

Sanctimonious and creepy. Excuse me. Shahid has won the Organization of Understanding and Fraternity Award for promotion of Secularism (1991), Delhi Urdu Academy Award for excellence in Urdu journalism (1992), Maulana Mohd Ali Johar Award for national integration (1993), Rajiv Gandhi Award for excellence in secularism (1994). So before you criticise him, try getting one of those.

I stand corrected. So after all these awards what happened to Shahid? Well, he decided to join politics after Rajiv Gandhi died and went about this in a very straightforward manner.

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My head is spinning looking at this. Imagine his.

So he’s like the boat that docks at every port. I guess.

The woman who has many lovers. Um hmm.

The wine that…That’s enough! What Shahid Siddiqui is consistent in is speaking his mind. In fact, he can barely keep a lid on it.

Like the Pandora’s box which won’t close. Just two days before the vote on the nuke deal he switched allegiance to the Bahujan Samaj Party. He felt the nuke deal was not in the country’s interest and was upset with Mulayam for supporting it. It was a deflection of the SP from its own ideology. And Shahid objected to this!

So, ta ta SP!

Good for him. Yeah, then he contested a seat from Bijnore on a BSP ticket and got a resounding thrash.

Awww. The local BSP unit wasn’t happy with him. Also, apparently the media was for sale and unless you paid them off you got negative publicity.

So the media killed his chances. Tch tch. Can you ever trust your own?  The honeymoon with Maya didn’t last long either. After all, once he’d lost the elections what use was it being part of the BSP. He really tried hard but couldn’t stop himself from criticising Maya’s megalomaniacal tendencies in his paper.

So, adios amigo.

Off he went clutching his bottoms to join the Rashtriya Lok Dal and clamoured for the creation of Harit Pradesh with Ajit Singh.

What the hell is Harit Pradesh now?! Oh forget it. He quit soon after anyway and went back to the SP! Wait till you hear what he thought of his former benefactor Mayawati whom he supposedly has a lot of respect for even now.I never wanted to be part of her coterie because to be in it, you also have to be sleazy. I think she is insecure as a woman and as a Dalit.”

Ouch! There’s more!Being a Dalit she may be feeling that she is not accepted. It is a psychological thing…Mayawati is building statues like Hitler or Saddam Hussein would. She is a dictator not a democrat.”

Well he’s got a point… Um hmm, and see what he thought of female politicians in general. “Whether it was Indira Gandhi or Jayalalithaa, most women leaders at the top are insecure. They think society is working against them. They become aggressive and insecure…Women who have come into politics have come because of their male counterparts, whether a father or a brother or a husband.”

Gosh. Wonder why Maya threw him out. So off he went to the Samajwadi Party again, till Narendra Modi shot him out of there – to superstardom.

Anyway he’s back with a bang now, and wants to be in politics but believes that if he joins a party again, “HIS VOICE WILL BE STIFLED!”. Between you and me, we’ll be able to fly at the speed of light before that happens.

DO watch out for lots more fireworks from this fearless crusader of the Fourth Estate.

DON’T ever say, “Sha-hid-Go-Home”.

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Image By: [Swarnabha Banerjee]


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