Ranjona Banerji: Confusion over CAG continues

28 Aug,2012

By Ranjona Banerji


The continuing political crisis in India dominated TV headlines on Monday. The prime minister was forced to break his silence on the CAG report on coal allocations and the BJP continued to obstruct Parliament. TV news showed us both sides but the BJP’s recalcitrance appears to have affected its supporters. New channels seemed to feel that the prime minister’s statement has emboldened the Congress which has upped the ante.


However, the confusion over the CAG report remains and neither TV nor print has managed to adequately explain the various issues. The best that I have read (or rather the most that I have understood) has been Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar’s column in TOI Sunday before last where he said the best way forward would be to scrap discretionary quotas. Other than that, between corruption, CAG, coal as a natural resource, bidding, auctions, allocations, the Centre, the states, industry, cheap power – there is almost too much going on for the average person to make sense of.


Instead, what the BJP has now given us is a political war and that most commentators find much easier to understand.




Arnab Goswami, Sidharth Bhatia and Arati Jerath (the last two are friends of mine) had a tough time keeping a straight face on Monday night on the Newshour on Times Now as three members of India Against Corruption tried to explain the varying positions of Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi. Mayank Gandhi sounded the most reasonable, Shazia Ilmi was her usual verbose self and Abhinandan Sekri was like a petulant child. For all their sophistry, it was clear to all that they had no answers for Bedi’s position of refusing to support Kejriwal if he attacked both the Congress and the BJP. Nor could they explain why, until Sunday, the movement had consistently only attacked the Congress and not the BJP. Ilmi tried to claim that they had only to be stopped in her tracks by Goswami – and no TV anchor has been kinder or given more air time to the IAC movement than him. Bhatia was also quick to point out to Ilmi that IAC could not take credit for Santosh Hegde’s actions as Lokayukta of Karnataka and claim that as an example of how IAC took on the BJP.




Twitter, normally the bastion of the ‘Internet Hindu” and legions of BJP supporters, saw a stealth attack by Congress supporters who went all out with their ‘#RIPBJP” slogan. There came a time when this was even trending on twitter! I am surprised that Lindsay Pereira, editor of Mid-Day Online, did not pick this up in his Tuesday column on the internet since he is normally on the ball.




The media’s latest darling is Unmukt Chand, the captain of India’s winning Under-19 team. He seems to be a sensible young man so one can only hope that he has the strength to withstand this media onslaught with equanimity.




Just to comfort ourselves that the media elsewhere gets it very wrong sometimes as well, this is how NBC news reported astronaut Neil Armstrong’s death: http://gawker.com/5937870/nbc-news-reports-on-death-of-astronaut-neil-young



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