Frederick Noronha (FN)
2004-05-21 21:07:57 UTC
[Tehelka * May 15, 2004]
Outrageous, extreme, and something of an icon, RAJAN NARAYAN keeps dissent
alive in Goa with his lampooning paper, says SANJUKTA SHARMA.
For Rajan Narayan, an idiosyncratic voice of dissent in Goa, the state's
legislative assembly is a manimal farm. Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is
half kindly old grandmother, half wolf with paws pouncing on Red RIding
Hood. 'Wily Willy' (Dr Wilfred D'Souza, senior NCP leader) is half himself
with Captain Spock ears and half kolo (fox). Every Sunday morning, a new
political manimal hits newspaper stands all over Goa and Rajan Narayan is
solely responsible for this torture or amusement, whichever way it goes
down with your breakfast.
Ever since he launched *The Goan Observer*, Narayan has had a free reign
lampooning and loathing public figures. After a 20-year stint as editor of
*The Herald*, Goa's highest circulating English daily, came to a bitter
end, Narayan started *The Goan Observer* as a paper "run by professionals
and owned by readers".
A self-confessed Marxist-turned-liberal leftist, Narayan's brand of
journalism received blanket condemnation by the Parrikar government and
the new generation of the Fernandes family that owns *The Herald*.
"The most mercenary of the Fernandes brothers had taken over. He was
constantly knowtowing to Parrikar and his legions. I quit on 3 October,
2003, the twentieth anniversary of my joining *The Herald*. I handed over
my resignation letter at *The Herald* family Mass and walked out," says
Narayan, in his late 50s but still incorrigibly the rabble-rouser.
*The Goan Observer* runs with computers, chairs and tables donated by his
loyal readers. The walls are adorned by some of the most outrageous covers
since November 15, 2003, the day the first issue hit the stands. A stray
poster of a dinosaur hangs in the production room, listing different ways
of winning an argument with a meat-eating animal.
Reclining on the editor's chair, in between incessant cigarette puffs,
Narayan recounts his days as a journalist in Bombay in the 70's when he
was a jhola-carrying Marxist hardliner writing for *The Financial Express*
and *The Onlooker*. Later, he joined *Mirror*, the poor man's *Readers
Digest*, where he wrote everything from editorials to agony aunt columns,
and also learnt a thing or two about brand positioning.
"My covers are meant to be clinchers. There has to be something that
compels the reader to pick up the paper," he says. His prose does not have
the ingenious wit of the best of political satire, but Narayan keeps
adversarial journalism alive in a state where the saffron brigade has
warmed up to alarming proportions.
Sample this: "In the fairytale when the fat, ugly toad was kissed by the
beautiful princess, the toad turned into a prince. But the toad called
Ramakant Angle... has not been kissed or embraced by any pretty princess.
Ramakant Angle has been embraced and propped up by rakshashas. Rakshashas
headed by the Ravana of Govapuri, Manohar Parrikar." The carricature of
Ramakant Angle, BJP candidate from South Goa, shows him half his
bespectacled self and half a toad that Narayan avers, "does not croak".
Narayan's prefixes are legendary and his 20-year-old trademark political
gossip column, 'Stray Thoughts' begins with the same staple line every
Sunday -- "And a few more stray thoughts and a few more observations for
yet another Sunday...."
"Goa has been an example of not only communal harmony, but communal
fusion. I am dedicated to cry wolf over any kind of fascism that threatens
to destroy that fusion," Narayan affirms.
Some of his readers are beginning to feel that Narayan is "selling-out" to
the Congress. One of his relatively staid recent covers had a squeaky
clean hand at the foreground of a splatter of blood drops. It said, "Stop
Hate, Strengthen Harmony". But Narayan insists he is just being
unabashedly anti-establishment and at this point, that means anti-saffron
and anti-"Manohar Adolf Hitler Parrikar".
* * *