Ranjona Banerji: Is the #2 I-Love-The-BJP-No-Matter-What fanning toxic prejudices?

27 Jul,2018

By Ranjona Banerji

 

A shock wave ran through social media this week when it seemed that India’s Number Two I-Love-The-BJP-No-Matter-What TV channel appeared to be attacked the, gasp, BJP. Rahul Shivshankar, anchor in chief of BJP love, was apparently very angry with the BJP after stories emerged that the Rajasthan police had taken three hours to take a lynching victim to hospital, stopping for a cup of tea along the way. Poor Nalin Kohli of the BJP. He must have been really shocked to be on the receiving end.

Ha, fooled you, it was not to last. Times Now’s focus has been on Muslim-baiting and saving Hindus from various threats for some time now, when it is not brainwashing the nation to only vote for the BJP. Long discussions have been had on whether this is a Bennett Coleman strategy to have different voices appealing to all constituencies across its various platforms or whether Times Now is a rogue element that makes so much money that it is not possible to stop it. I have no idea what the answer is. It is clear however that Times Now’s main anchors have followed in the footsteps of the former anchor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and decided to stop being journalists. Not much of a loss to journalism, one might argue.

So having taken this dramatic step, some normal service had to be restored so as not to horrify the mass of the bigoted watching public. The next day, Times Now announced on Twitter the following subject that was up for debate on Shivshankar’s show: “Did Rakbar Khan and other minority community members who were lynched by gau rakshaks invite violence because they hurt Hindu sensitivities?”

Now people have argued that the show had arguments from “all sides” and that Times Now was just asking the question. But let us look closely at how the question is framed and it is clear that this TV channel is not looking at news or the issues splitting India so much as fanning toxic prejudices. Did Rakbar Khan “invite violence”? Did he “hurt Hindu sensitivities”? There is no question asked about whether those who killed Rakbar Khan broke any Indian laws. The implication in the question is by being Muslim and by owning cows, Rakbar Khan (and others “who were lynched”, as it is mentioned almost casually), somehow asked for what he got just by being there. Further, the use of the term “gau rakshaks” itself is questionable because by now, surely, these are murderous mobs who can no longer get away with being benignly called “cow protectors”?

Meanwhile, not to be outdone, Arnab Goswami of the Number One BJP Love channel Republic TV came up with his own idea of how to condone mob violence, with this: “In the run-up to 2019, mobs being unleashed to stop Modi in 2019?”.

If Times Now is saving both the BJP and Hindus from the rest of the population, Republic TV it appears is only saving Modi.

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There has been other news, and some of it has only been presented as immediate reporting of an event or for its sensational element. It’s the weather I am referring to. If you put together the horror of fires in Greece and floods in Laos, you get this excellent article by Eric Holthaus on global warming, climate change and what it means for the Earth and us.

https://grist.org/article/the-world-is-hot-on-fire-and-flooding-climate-change-is-here/

 

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And Imran Khan is on the way to becoming prime minister of Pakistan. While cartoonists have done their usual great job, here is military analyst and Pakistan expert Christine Fair with a sharp breakdown of what Khan’s victory means:

https://thediplomat.com/2018/07/imran-khan-another-act-in-pakistans-circus/

 

​Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She is also Consulting Editor, MxMIndia. The views here are personal​

 

 

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