Ranjona Banerji: TV said Bandh was total, papers said partial

21 Sep,2012

By Ranjona Banerji


Televisionland and Newspaperland presented us with two different versions of India and the news on Thursday and Friday. If you watched TV through the day on Thursday, you would have got the impression that the Bandh was all that had happened, with a couple of detours to take in the split in the anti-corruption movement with Anna Hazare rejected Arvind Kejriwal’s political turn.


The idea of a “Third Front” emerging once again on the stage also excited our TVwallahs.


But what disappointment in the morning: shock and horror, there was other news! For one, the “Bharat Bandh” called to protest against FDI in multi-brand retail was only a partial success and almost a complete flop in some parts of India. Mumbai’s newspapers therefore could not concentrate much on something that hardly happened.


The one person however who dominated headlines in both mediums was Mamata Banerjee. The impulsive and reckless nature of the West Bengal chief minister continues to befuddle and bemuse. The Times of India carries an excellent – and frightening – analysis of the future of Bengal under a chief minister who blocks every economic move by Abheek Barman. In ‘The UPA after Mamata’, Barman explains how the former Left Front government vastly increased the number of government employees. Therefore, he writes; “…the Bengal government could soon become the largest unpaid workforce in India. If it continues to get paid, there will be nothing left to invest in infrastructure, healthcare, utilities and other services which people expect democratically elected regimes to provide.”




The Indian Express is now the main paper to go to for updates on Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal and the India Against Corruption movement. The newspaper has been more detailed and more consistent than any other. Today it tells us that Baba Ramdev was behind this new rift.




The anchor story on the front page of the Mumbai edition of the Times of India said in its headline: ‘How Rushdie helped world meet Potter’. The few paragraphs there told us all about his friend and first publisher Liz Calder. Not a squeak about JK Rowling and boy wizard. You were asked to go to page 22. And had to trawl through a very complicated sequence of events which led to this: Rushdie did not give Calder Satanic Verses to publish. And Bloomsbury, where she worked, discovered Rowling. Thank you. There is an impolite term for this kind of a story and they’ve just made a Hindi film with that as a name (if you use the initials). I tell you no more.




To get back to the Bandh, I am sorely disappointed that no newspaper that I read told me why the Bihar police, in an NDA state, arrested Ravi Shankar Prasad of the BJP for protesting against the Central government’s policies. India or at least I demand an answer!


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