Ranjona Banerji: Much hysteria about the swearing-in

27 May,2014

By Ranjona Banerji


It is easy to understand why the swearing-in ceremony of the new BJP-led government at the Centre is a big media event. What is not so easy to understand is the breathless hysterical excitement of the television media where a whole day was practically dedicated to this event. As a ceremony went it was just that, but on a grand scale to allow India’s new prime minister Narendra Modi to make a statement.


News channels then behaved like bookies as they started an endless circle of speculation about who was getting which ministry and on and on. All guests now know how the game is played so they also chip in with their oohs and aahs. These panel dramas have become so well staged that they are now definitely pointless.


I did not watch the coronation all day so do not know if there was anyone interpreting people’s fashion choices like at a British royal wedding – was there? Like which of her seven lakh saris was Kirrrroooonn Kherrr (not sure how she spells her name) wearing.


Meanwhile, NDTV Hindi provided some entertainment on social media on Monday morning by telling us that Narendra Modi went to Modi’s Samadhi at Rajghat thus breaking even known-Hindu laws of transmigration. And let us not even discuss the er, compliment paid to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi otherwise known as Mahatama and Bapu and to Modi as Mohanlal Gandhi.


Later, the channel ran an apology without telling viewers what they were apologising for. I direct them to that old newspaper joke. Man sues paper for writing that he “has the manners of a pig”. Man wins. Newspaper directed to carry apology. Next day’s paper says man “hasn’t the manners of a pig”. There are ways, boys and girls, think a little.


After the grand coronation was over – which is what some TV channels were calling it – we then went on to discuss Cabinet berths. Karan Thapar on Headlines Today was effective as usual and for some reason the same people who yell elsewhere remember their manners with him. Rajdeep Sardesai on CNN-IBN had some criticism for the Cabinet formation and the lack of co-relation between earlier promises of “cluster” ministries and what was apparently handed out.


General Bakshi on NewsX threw Rahul Shivshankar off balance by saying the most important thing to be discussed was how India was following the rightwing trend where nationalism was emphasised and “the other” was targetted. Shivshankar looked like he couldn’t believe that someone could mention words like rightwing right in the middle of this right coronation. It is possible that only the general’s formidable moustache stopped Shivshankar from having a tantrum.


Arnab Goswami on Times Now looked like that cat that was licking its chops after the cream had been scoffed down and also a little coy. Don’t ask me why.


In the morning, The Indian Express headline read, “He signs in” thus taking TV’s coronation and turning it into deification. Is the rumour true that Shekhar Gupta will soon join the India Today group?


Still no clues on which of our illustrious peers who worked so hard to ensure this victory for Modi will be rewarded. If indeed they will.




Away from all this, would it be fair to ask some newspaper to explain to Tata Sky subscribers why they no longer get Neo Sports and Neo Prime even if they have paid for them? Neo Sports put out a tweet asking tennis fans who want to watch the French Open to demand their rights from Tata Sky. But from what I understand, Tata Sky is refusing. Anyone? Might be a good story even if it involves a little hard work…


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