When Arnab struggled, sputtered

18 Oct,2011

Ranjona Banerji

It was quite painful to watch Arnab Goswami on Monday night, struggling with his own clear convictions about Team Anna. There was the winning candidate from Hisar, Kuldeep Bishnoi, making it clear that his victory had nothing to do with the anti-Congress campaign led by Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi. He won because of his father and the groundwork done by him. The Congress said Bhajan Lal’s son, supported in this election by the BJP, was never a contender. Further, he wanted to know what Team Anna would have done if Ajay Chautala of the Indian National Lok Dal had won — given the years of corruption charges against him and his family. There was no adequate answer from Medha Patkar, who was representing Team Anna on the panel. Vinod Mehta, editor of Outlook, wanted to know what Patkar was doing with Team Anna in the first place. And Arati Jerath, political editor of Crest, pointed out that the bigger story, than Team Anna’s role in the Hisar by-election, was the various losses suffered by the Congress.

 

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The Times of India indeed led with the Congress’s 0-4 showing in four by-elections, as did the Hindu. Although each loss had its own specific reasons, the portents cannot be good for the struggling alliance in power at the Centre. Oddly, Hindustan Times carried the election results below the fold in Mumbai and as an adjunct story to its lead about the right to recall in Delhi.

The Telegraph, Calcutta, interestingly and oddly, had Shah Rukh Khan as a half-page lead on the front page. The Deccan Chronicle in Hyderabad focused on the ongoing battle for AP launched by Jaganmohan Reddy. The TRS winning the by-poll was also prominent.

 

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In spite of all the spankings which Indian news channels get, it is also necessary to thank them — particularly CNN-IBN and NDTV for focusing on less dramatic but equally important news like children dying in UP hospitals, child labour, female foeticide and so on. The documentary features which they run need some more focus than the anchor-generated hysteria.

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At last, the Indian media has picked up on the ‘Occupy’ movement, especially since it has spread across the world. However, Syria remains low on the radar.

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To end, let’s go back to the end of Goswami’s show on Times Now, where once again he was baffled by Gujarat policeman Sanjeev Bhatt, who obviously got bail, got out of jail and was then kidnapped by television. Bhatt openly accused the Narendra Modi government of not just the riots but also a hand in the death of Haren Pandya and various other intimidatory tactics. Goswami and the Gujarat government spokesperson Jainarayan Vyas, both sputtered, obviously unprepared for this odd kind of candour. Makes for good viewing.

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