Ranjona Banerji: Tweedledum, Tweedledee, Twitterdom

10 Dec,2013

By Ranjona Banerji


Sunday was a busy day for the media and my heart goes out to all newspaper and web columnists whose profound writings are scheduled for that day. For just about anyone who was interested in the news was of course watching TV and tracking the results of four crucial Assembly elections.


Also, some may have been there for the entertainment. Because news channels can sometimes top their counterparts in the general entertainment category when it comes to drama, melodrama, tension, denouements, overacting, hamming, emotion and any other over-the-top human reaction you can think of. Humour, outrage, sneering and jeering are to be found on social media, however.


I started Sunday morning with NDTV, Prannoy Roy and Dorab Sopariwalla for old times’ sake and it was a soothing, enlightening, gentle humour-filled experience. This was marred somewhat by the presence of Meenakshi Lekhi of the BJP who may be many things but she is not a soothing experience. I switched between all the channels and watched the big guns at work. The most electrifying was of course Times Now which like is all the other channels combined plus a huge dose of amphetamines or maybe whatever Lance Armstrong was so fond of. Terrifying to watch actually.


My vote then goes to Rajya Sabha TV. It has the latest figures. The studio was filled with journalists and analysts, not politicians and the discussions were robust but polite and interesting. I really admire Indian news addicts who crave the tamasha that is news television. I find it jarring and at the end of the day, extremely hollow. Several people I spoke to said they were happier tracking the elections results on Twitter, which is usually the first with information anyway. I myself was on Twitter while watching TV for most of Sunday.




By Sunday evening, discussions were about the demise of the Congress and the phenomenal success of the Aam Aadmi Party. The “Modi wave” was also discussed and on Sunday and Monday morning many commentators felt that the Gujarat chief minister and the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi had made a difference to the BJP’s four victories. By Monday evening and Tuesday morning, the “wave” had become a “ripple” as vote share and constituency wise figures trickled in.


The lobster quadrille being danced out between the BJP and AAP in Delhi – where no one has a majority – dominated the news however. The whiting, the snail and the porpoise were not sure where to tread. There was and still is a sort of Carrollian air to these elections. Cheshire cats everywhere, Tweedledum and Tweedledee in usual combat and with the calls for leaders like Indira Gandhi, some Red Queens shouting “Off with their heads” will soon pop up.


Tuesday’s newspapers are full of advice for both the Congress and Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party. The BJP won four states and will form a government in three but it is a bit eclipsed by the Congress’s remarkable losses and the AAP’s spectacular showing. Such is India that the results of the Mizoram assembly elections got a little lost.


Anyway, the show, ladies and gentlemen, has just begun. Get a drink, settle down and enjoy the ride.




MS Dhoni has to thank Arvind Kejriwal because no one has noticed India’s dismal performance in South Africa except for diehard cricket fans. Columns however are undoubtedly being written to blame Sachin Tendulkar. Oh, wait, of course…




Tarun Tejpal too has been knocked off the headlines. Intriguing however is this massive defence of Shoma Chaudhury in The New York Times by well-known columnist Roger Cohen. Far be it from anyone to tell a columnist what to write about but a few more facts may have helped him to understand why Chaudhury faced as much flak as she did: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/10/opinion/the-beast-in-indias-midst.html?_r=0



And finally, this is a personal crusade and a little out of my territory. Sunsilk Shampoo has an ad on the front page of The Times of India’s Mumbai edition headlined: “Love your Straight Baal?” The copy goes on to read, “Every girl knows that there is one magic moment just after a shower when your hair is wet, aligned and perfectly straight.”


This ad is a direct attack on people who do not have straight hair and especially people with curly hair. On behalf of all curly-haired people, I object. Nor do I know anything about this stupid supposedly “magic moment”. So there!


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