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A Babri test for the BJP — and news TV

Written by Shailaja Bajpai | Published: June 1, 2017 12:38:26 am
babri masjid case, babri masjid, republic tv Between the Babri case and the UP CM, Ayodhya will remain in the news, gain increasing currency.

Breaking Super Exclusive News: Did Arnab G (as in “ji”) get a haircut? And has it affected him like it did Samson (of Delilah fame)? Well, that would account for the change in him: For the first time in recorded memory, the Republic anchor questioned the BJP — perhaps he had been listening to the prime minister on Sunday’s Mann ki Baat when he said that critical feedback was welcome and government accountability was important in a democracy.

“#Babri test for BJP”, screamed the headlines on Tuesday’s Burning Question, “Will BJP oust the charged or admit a duplicitous agenda? Sudhanshu Mittal…”, thundered Goswami in the angry voice he normally reserves for “anti-national” obstructionist, sorry (!), opposition parties. It’s been six hours, fifty-something minutes, thirty one and a half seconds and five-fifths of a nanosecond since “12 charged 25 years later” in the Babri Masjid case and the BJP has taken not one “action” against the “fringe elements” — would that be L.K. Advani, M.M. Joshi and Uma Bharti? Fringe elements? Well, really!

Republic said it was a moment of “reckoning for BJP” which sent a 7.2 quake on the Richter scale through the LED screen as it is not accustomed to Goswami & Co even suggesting such an earth-shattering possibility. Blame it on the barber and be careful when you go for a haircut.

While most of the other news channels in Hindi and English joined Republic in revisiting the Babri case, Times Now first caught the UPA snooping on Muslims (India Upfront), if you please, and then got into a #BeefRage over “violence for votes?” (The Newshour, 9 pm). It was only at 10 pm that the news channel went to Ayodhya and asked: “Who derailed justice?”

Ayodhya was very much on ABP’s agenda Tuesday, but for other reasons: “Yogi ki Ram Leela” played on the screen as Ayodhya prepared for UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s visit on Wednesday. Mahant Nritya Gopal Das told the channel that once the ruling dispensation had enough seats in the Rajya Sabha, the Ram mandir would be built in Ayodhya. Hmmm.

Between the Babri case and the UP CM, Ayodhya will remain in the news, gain increasing currency and perhaps, in the process, however inadvertently or otherwise, even whip up support for the construction of a “Ram mandir”. Just the way the “beef” narrative over the last 24 months has led to the Centre’s ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter at animal markets and the violent agitations we have been watching on TV in the last few days.

And the AAP will keep us interested in its self-destruction if it continues to assault its own members in public, on live TV. The latest incident took place on Wednesday afternoon when Kapil Mishra was mobbed and attacked in the state assembly. Why does the party indulge in activity that makes great television but can only harm its image? Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi really wants to know.

In other TV news, a Times Now poll gives the BJP a resounding victory in the next general elections, which might explain why party president Amit Shah and Home Minister Rajnath Singh (India Today/Aaj Tak) looked pleased as punch during the NDA’s third anniversary interviews. Zee’s Hindustan news channel with the tagline, “states make the nation”, joins Republic and all the channels beginning with “India” in exploiting the notion of the nation for their brand. It carries news from across the country but so do other Hindi channels in their 200-in-2-minutes news capsules, so not sure yet how this will be different.

Meanwhile, a reminder: If there is anyone who hasn’t watched Friends at some stage of their lives, well, you can still do so before age and ailments lead to the only certainty in life, on Zee Café. Also, anyone who hasn’t swooned over Castle can now ogle him in a complete rerun from season one of the series (Zee Café).

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