Ranjona Banerji: Tiny cracks emerging in Delhi’s media’s love for Modi govt

16 Dec,2014

By Ranjona Banerji


If you listen to Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien on TV, then almost the entire media and most certainly the Ananda Bazaar Patrika group is against Mamata Banerjee and the Trinamool Congress. But if you visit Calcutta and read the The Telegraph, it is clear that the media has no option in the matter. As a matter of course, the media should be anti-establishment and the TMC is the Establishment. The ABP group had earlier supported the TMC against the Left Front.


Of course, the media in Bengal is greatly assisted by the shenanigans of the TMC and not least by the chief minister herself. The Telegraph outdid itself with a couple of front page headlines last week. The first was on December 12, after TMC minister Madan Mitra was arrested by the CBI in connection with Sharada chit fund scam, when the front page punned on “Madan” and “Madam”.


The second was on December 14, when Mamata Banerjee made one more unsavoury reference to a bamboo being inserted into the human body while attacking the BJP for Mitra’s arrest. The headline simply said, “Ouch” and below that was a picture of bamboo with a sharpened point. When a CM stoops to such language, the media cannot be expected to stand back and applaud.




However, the same does not necessarily hold true of the rest of the media when it comes to the government at the Centre. We are still in the laudatory stages where every word and action of the prime minister is treated like signs from the Almighty on High, especially on TV.


And yet, when it comes to our Delhi-based intelligentsia and the columnists who tell us what’s what because they know it all, there are a few tiny cracks emerging. Tavleen Singh for the second week in a row is not too happy with the Modi government, Madhu Kishwar has been fire and brimstone ever since Smriti Irani was made HRD minister, Surjit Bhalla’s columns on the economy now find not enough is being done and Ashok Malik has not been gung-ho about the new government’s foreign policy among other things.


All these columnists, among others, had earlier told us that the new Modi government was going to be a magical mystery tour where all our dreams would come true. Instead it’s turned into a bag of conjurer’s tricks with deft sleight of hand and smoke and mirrors being used to deflect attention from the lack of actual work. One supposes that no journalist can ignore the signs for too long. So far however, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being spared and the blame for lack of action and bad decisions is being put on the shoulders of bureaucrats, the RSS, “fringe elements” and just about anyone else.




But to see how the fan club continues, it is worth trying to watch an interview of BJP president Amit Shah on Headlines Today. The interviewer is Rahul Kanwal and although he asks tough questions, his dulcet tones can be a lesson to all people who want to learn how to woo and coo. And when Shah refused to answer a single tough question, the matter was taken no further.


Does that hoary old chestnut: “Let’s wait and see” have any traction here? I wonder.


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