Ranjona Banerji: Gold standard journalism by ‘ace’ reporters!

30 Apr,2019

By Ranjona Banerji


Have to start with the Trinamool’s candidate for Asansol, film personality Moon Moon Sen. The poor reporter! No training for when an interviewee uses the “bed tea” defence!


I did not watch the “non-political” interview of Prime Minister Narendra Modi conducted by film star Akshay Kumar. I gather the prime minister eats mangos. So exciting, no?

But I did watch this spoof by Shyam Rangeela:


Nor did I watch the “gold standard journalism” interview of Modi by India Today’s “ace team” (I quote India Today owner Aroon Purie here) because it involved Rahul Kanwal and Co. Okay, that is not true. I did try to watch it, but the PM waffled so much that I forgot the question asked by the ace interviewer (not Kanwal) and got bored.

I suppose when you hire someone you have to call them “ace” et cetera, regardless of how many times they do non-stories about terror suspects going goo-goo over the pet cows and so on.

But on to the serious stuff, eh? We are mid-way through the world’s longest election season and the Election Commission is getting the worst of it. No matter what, all dysfunctional voting machines have “BJP” as the default option and too many candidates flout the model code of conduct with impunity. The worst culprits are from the BJP and include the prime minister, the BJP president Amit Shah, the terror suspect candidate Pragya Thakur but for fairness’s sake, the EC also has to ignore transgressions by the Opposition. Oh, did I really write that? What I meant is that the EC has to take note of BJP transgressions so it can also nab the Opposition.

The PM can get away with threatening the Trinamool with MLA defections. The terror suspect Thakur can claim to have cursed police officer Hemant Karkare. Amit Shah can threaten Muslims and Christians. The PM’s support staff can carry away some mysterious box from his convoy and the officer who asks for an explanation gets transferred. The PM can misuse his official position for his campaign visits… Yes, let’s get to this.

Scroll.in has done an investigation which shows that the PMO sent instructions to district collectors  to gather certain info about the places that Modi was going to campaign in. This is in direct contravention of the model code of conduct.


The Wire has gone further into this story and added that this is the very contravention that got Indira Gandhi debarred from contesting elections, which eventually led to The Emergency.


So where is the Election Commission? To decide today on some transgressions but well, are you holding your breath?

ANI is a news agency edited by Smita Prakash, who got so angry at being referred to as “pliable” by Rahul Gandhi (after a very friendly “interview with Modi) that the Editors’ Guild issued a very strong letter of support. (More than the Guild did for several journalists who lost their lives or jobs thanks to pressure from the BJP, but well, never mind.)

How ANI grew to what it has become is another story. For now, let us remember that ANI tried to twist a letter written by several retired armed forces officers objecting to politicising the armed forces, to make it sound like the letter writers had faked it. Because, by inference, to object to anything the BJP does is anti-national of course.

And now ANI cannot recognise Julio Ribeiro, former police commissioner of Mumbai, former DGP Punjab and Gujarat, former ambassador to Romania. Is it because Ribeiro recently wrote an article in favour of Hemant Karkare and critical of Pragya Thakur?

While on Pragya Thakur, what are the medical ethics on doctors revealing whether she has cancer or not?

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

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