Ranjona Banerji: Damp squib disclosures

18 Oct,2012

By Ranjona Banerji


I can’t speak for other newspaper readers but I for one find those bookmark type page protrusions used by advertisers vastly annoying. They make holding a newspaper uncomfortable and folding it even worse. LG I think is the latest offender and moves from one newspaper to another. I can understand the desire for “innovative” advertising but not for idiotically annoying advertising.


While on advertising, I have agree with Malavika Sanghvi in today’s Mid-Day that there is something very endearing about the ICICI ad where a little girl runs to buy a sweetie from a grumpy old shopkeeper. No fake sentiment and very good acting by all.




And now, on to the damp squib of the day: Arvind Kejriwal’s stunning disclosure about BJP president Nitin Gadkari. As it turned out, it was the same disclosure that had been made earlier – that he got land acquired for an irrigation project as a favour from the Maharashtra government. All the sharks, sensationalists and strategists in the media and the political arena who had been sharpening their knives and their defences were sorely disappointed by 5.30 pm on Wednesday evening, but where was the bombshell?


Arnab Goswami was on air from 4.30 pm onwards, waiting to see who was going to be excoriated and exiled. Political analysts were on hold. The nation was waiting. And we heard what we thought we already know. Yes, maybe Gadkari had been a bit of a naughty boy but hardly the devil incarnate. Most TV channels felt that these revelations were not damning enough.


It was on Headlines Today, between Shiv Aroor, Rahul Shivshankar and Javed Ansari that one actually got a political overview that went through the various responses of the BJP and Kejriwal and friends to build a picture of the future.




By the night however, everyone in the media had regrouped and realised that something was better than nothing. Goswami was angry again and one had to feel sorry for Nirmala Seetharaman of the BJP as she tried to defend her party president, dissemble on the charges and attack the Congress.


On CNNIBN, veteran journalist and BJP supporter Swapan Dasgupta looked quite sad (as did Ravi Shankar Prasad) when he said that the BJP had lost some moral ground in these allegations.




A couple of other news stories lost out in the Kejriwal allegation circus, damp squib or otherwise. US president Barack Obama appeared to have trumped his rival Mitt Romney in the second election debate. And Salman Khurshid’s outrageous remarks about fighting with ink and blood in what appeared to be a threat to Arvind Kejriwal. Certainly words unsuited to a Union law minister.




What was strange though was that neither last night’s TV news programmes nor today’s newspapers saw fit to get any reactions from Maharashtra’s ruling politicians or bureaucrats as to how Gadkari received all this official largesse.


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