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Raj Thackeray’s table manners may be exquisite but his behaviour during TV interviews is execrable. He displays none of those qualities you would associate with a perfect guest: he is disrespectful of his hosts; he is aggressive, abrasive, hostile and extremely critical of them; and disdainful of whatever they dish out. Which is what made his sessions on Times Now and CNN-IBN refreshing and entertaining.
When did you last hear a guest bark at Arnab Goswami and Rajdeep Sardesai like a cross between a bulldog and an alsatian (Frankly Speaking, Times Now)? Goswami badgered Thackeray with questions that began with “Log kehte hain”, and he snapped: “Who are these people?’’
With Sardesai (Newsmaker), his bite was worse than his bark: “You sit in the studio all day, who do you meet? Who are these people (you keep speaking about)?’’ If anything, he was harder on Sardesai than on Goswami: “This is an interview, not an interrogation, so sit back and don’t raise your voice… Don’t talk like Arnab. Aage chalo and don’t ask questions on the same subject.That’s enough now, no more!” Sardesai said people accused him of barking and harking on certain themes; Thackeray pounced on him: “Have you finished barking?” When Sardesai spoke of the “divide” in the Shiv Sena, he snapped back, “You return to NDTV then”. Ouch.
Sardesai subsided a little but to his credit never took umbrage, smiled and continued with his hard-nosed cross-questioning, which helped maintain the tempo of the interview. Goswami and Sardesai asked Thackeray why a merger or alliance with the Shiv Sena was not possible for the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, if his purpose was to elect Modi as PM. “Why don’t all of you TV channels get together and bring out just one channel too?” was his riposte — to which neither of them even tried to find a fitting reply.
Thackeray was equally biting about Rahul Gandhi and answered in a way that showed a chink in Goswami’s armour too. Asked by Goswami why he was supporting Modi as PM, he retorted: “You had interviewed Rahul Gandhi, did you think he was fit to be PM? A man who cannot give an interview, can he become PM?”
On and on it went. Aggression is the best form of defence, but this went beyond all boundaries. In the process, Thackeray revealed a great deal about himself in these interviews, perhaps unintentionally. He came across as hard-headed, stubborn, unbending, quick-tempered, intolerant of criticism and ready to take on all comers.
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