Ranjona Banerji: Arun Shourie criticises the government on Karan Thapar’s show and the channel’s editors play it down on Twitter?

03 Nov,2015

By Ranjona Banerji


So Arun Shourie, former editor, former minister in the AB Vajpayee government and now author and commentator, goes on Karan Thapar’s show on India Today TV again to discuss the Narendra Modi government. Shourie repeats what he said at a book launch last week and adds some extra garam masala to his criticism. The prime minister should stop acting like a section officer in the department of homeopathy and needs to be the moral leader of the country, he says. He also mentions that senior BJP leaders and ministers are frightened of writers and thinkers because they haven’t read a book in 20 years. He talks about how Nayantara Sahgal was an integral part of the movement which demanded action against those who participated in the anti-Sikh riots but her attackers have forgotten that.


Indeed, Shourie, a former BJP member himself, criticised the government more effectively than any other commentator so far.


India Today TV has in it two of India’s most patriotic journalists. The senior one, Rahul Kanwal, is always on the lookout for evil liberal journalists who criticise the government and are not patriotic enough. On his very popular Twitter account he often puts out pithy bits of news, with no links and no evidence that his own channel or media group has covered the same news, and asks why there is no outrage about it.


Most often, these bits of news are to do with attacks, physical, mental or emotional, on Hindus usually by Muslims or Christians or non BJP-governments.


This is what Kanwal had to say on Twitter (at the time I wrote this at 10 am on the morning of November 3) about the Shourie interview carried on his own channel, in which he holds some important position:
“Arun Shourie launches another attack on @PMOIndia Wonder what his responses to these questions would’ve been if he had been made a minister.”


Perhaps Kanwal should have better briefed Thapar on the sort of interview to conduct. In fact, Thapar, a very thorough journalist and one of India’s best TV interviewers, did ask Shourie a similar question which Shourie dismissed very effectively.


For some bizarre reason, I would have expected prominent members of the India Today TV team to have given this interview more publicity on social media, considering the channel itself was flogging it all day before the broadcast.


India Today TV however walks the cleverest line of balance between being pro-government and critical of government of all the channels. Karan Thapar and the absolutely brilliant cartoon series So Sorry do the job of bringing down egos in government and opposition, daytime anchors like Shiv Aroor are balanced and Kanwal and Sawant operate in Uber Patriot Off With Your Head If You Criticise The Central Government mode. Rajdeep Sardesai these days dances on both side of the Line of Political Control.


Of course, this is how a media house must be. It has to represent all points of view, even those that may make it unpopular with the ruling party rather than sucking up all the time. Perhaps some senior staff in the India Today TV newsroom need to look at journalism with a little more perspective.




Gangster Chhota Rajan, just arrested in Indonesia, was once part of Bombay’s famed Underworld. He was an important cog in Dawood Ibrahim’s gang but apparently quit after Ibrahim and Tiger Memon orchestrated the 1993 bomb blasts. However, he has been on the run from the authorities, once even jumping out of a hospital window to escape arrest.


Sadly, today’s journalists who have no memory of the time when the underworld ran Bombay, have fallen hook line and sinker for the romanticism game played by Bollywood. Which itself sang, danced for the Underworld in real life and also acted in gangster-funded films.


So Chhota Rajan is being treated like he is some sort of a film star by the media. Some even call him the “patriotic don” (Hindu) as if that gives him some claim on clemency.


Distateful and frankly disgusting.


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