Ranjona Banerji: Bile, Vitriol and more from you-know-who

07 May,2019

By Ranjona Banerji


One thing is clear: no one has a clue about how this election will play out. After too many years in this profession, and as an avid media watcher, I am bored of the same sort of speculative story played out one way or another. I am tired of those “neutral”, false equivalence fence-sitter commentators. I am angry with those who spend all their time harking back to the past while ignoring the present. And the worst are those who will sacrifice all their professionalism for “access” to some big name by whitewashing them as a return favour. Cue in all those bogus interviews with the Prime Minister.

Mr Narendra Modi carries on with his personal attacks on all Opposition party leaders and this is hailed as rhetoric and oratorial skills by his admirers and all his lapdog journalists. The general public’s so-called outrage at Modi’s comments on the late Rajiv Gandhi one can understand, sort of. But journalists? Please. This is what Modi’s followers want from him and all journalists worth their name know that very well. All Mr Modi’s election speeches from 2002 to date have been full of bile and vitriol and been lauded as extreme wit. Why pretend you didn’t know now?

Senior commentators continue to obfuscate the issue as much as they possibly can as long as the BJP narrative remains upfront. So yes, demonetisation was bad says veteran columnist Tavleen Singh in her latest Indian Express column, but Swacch Bharat is good (in her dreams, maybe?) and, here’ the kicker: Rahul Gandhi is to blame for Modi’s being unable to do anything about the economy. Poor Mr Modi. Incapacitated by the leader of a party that won only 44 Lok Sabha seats compared to his one gazillion in 2014.

As to what’s going to happen in 2019, according to a Times Now-commissioned opinion poll conducted pre-voting and released on March 18, 2019, the BJP-led NDA was going to win 279 to 293 seats, less than 2014 but well ahead of the rest.


A sampling on stories dated April 9, tell you that the NDA is a shoo-in but with a smaller majority.


Now where are we after five rounds of polling?

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh says “I can’t predict anything,” after voting in Lucknow on May 6: https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/lok-sabha-elections-2019-i-cant-predict-anything-says-rajnath-singh-after-voting-in-lucknow-2033399

RSS leader and part of this BJP government Ram Madhav says that the BJP will be happy if they get 271 and “may need allies”, in a Business Standard article dated May 6, 2019:


Here’s senior journalist Nikhil Wagle on opinion polls and journalists and these elections:


The Election Commission stand on opinion and exit polls has meant that media houses are stuck because they cannot generate either hysteria or stories. But as Nikhil Wagle points out, there is more to the confusion than just that. The Indian voter is not revealing her or his mind to journalists and what does that say about the great trust that is reposed in us for free, fair and fearless reporting?

Please excuse me while I giggle for 10 minutes.


The cross-examination of politician and journalist MJ Akbar in the criminal defamation case he filed against journalist Priya Ramani is a case study in how sexual harassment cases proceed in India. The culprit remembers nothing. How tragic for Mr Akbar’s career as a celebrated journalist and editor if his memory lets him down so badly. Is one supposed to feel sorry for his bare-faced lies?



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



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