Freaking News: SP goes UP, Times Now went down

06 Mar,2012

By Ranjona Banerji


What a mouth-watering cornucopia of choice, you think, as you settle down to watch the election results unfolding at 8 am on Tuesday morning, what with so many TV channels to choose from. In a couple of hours of course, you’re weeping at the cacophony, the grand, sweeping statements and the sheer confusion caused by so many channels.


For once, the loser is perhaps Times Now. The channel, which so often knows what India wants to know, appears to have overplayed its hand. Its bizarre desire to clock 100 hours of election coverage meant that it started long before the results day and created unnecessary boredom for the viewer. Plus an enormous range of “guests” some of whom were colour-coordinated (Vinod Mehta and Meghnad Desai on Monday night and Meghnad Desai and Neerja Chowdhury on Tuesday morning) and too much on-screen graphic hysteria made Times Now distracting and the remote more appealing.


CNNIBN made large generalisations even as early trends were being reported and then hopped back and forth to little avail. If Times Now had too much, CNNIBN did not have enough.


In the English news segment, the battle seemed to be between NDTV and Headlines Today. NDTV had Prannoy Roy and Dorab Sopariwalla, the old and trusted team, bolstered by words of wisdom from Indian Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta. Headlines Today had Mani Shankar Aiyar to add his considerable wit to the mix apart from a very eager energetic Rahul Kanwal.


I have to be honest here – I preferred NDTV until Barkha Dutt arrived, which is when I switched to Headlines Today – which by the way also claimed that only its exit polls were correct (more on that in a bit).


Of the Hindi channels, Aaj Tak was professional and easy to watch – although they all have a better ground presence in terms of reporters than the English channels. The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha channels both had serious debates and less fluff than all the others combined.


Mid-morning, the confusion between the channels reached its climax as each of them showed different trends, some almost at odds with each other. At which point, I switched everything off and went for a walk!




It’s now 12.55 pm and we have no results yet but some very strong trends. Most exit polls had decided that the Samajwadi Party would win UP, but the feeling was for a hung assembly where the permutations and alliances would be paramount. Right now, it seems like a clear win for the SP. The BJP has not done as well as it must have expected and nor has the Congress – but it has done better than before. Most channels have been debating this “failure” of Rahul Gandhi in UP although the numbers show a Congress gain.


Punjab was tagged as a clear Congress win but instead the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance has retained power – although the BJP’s losses have been the Congress’s gains.Uttarakhand is still too close to call – but again, it was seen as a Congress win.


Manipur has gone to the Congress – as expected and Goa seems to be heading to the BJP, again as expected.




Which means once more, the Indian voter has done her own thing and flummoxed everyone.


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