The invisible censorship
View from the right: Telangana divide

The Lalu show

He is grand, even when he is diminished.

Lalu Prasad stole the show. He flared his nostrils and charged. On Tuesday, we saw him gather his straying flock and march, as if to war, on the Bihar Assembly. Lalu Prasad stole the show. He flared his nostrils and charged. On Tuesday, we saw him gather his straying flock and march, as if to war, on the Bihar Assembly.

Lalu Prasad stole the show. He flared his nostrils and charged. On Tuesday, we saw him gather his straying flock and march, as if to war, on the Bihar Assembly. After flaunting nine out of the 13 RJD MLAs who had left the party in the front of the speaker, he was ready for battle: “Remove Nitish and save Bihar. Remove Modi and save India,” he proclaimed grandly. What a clarion call.

On the weekend, he was a little more subdued, if Lalu Prasad can ever be described so. He was up against Arnab Goswami. And while he did not get the better of the TV anchor, he managed to force Goswami to speak Hindi, putting him at a decided disadvantage. The wonderful thing about Prasad is that he is always grand — even when he is diminished, even when he was jailed. His bravado makes for good television, illusory as it might be. And so, when he declared, “I will also one day become PM,” it was completely in character (Frankly Speaking, Times Now).

Rahul Gandhi also seems to live in his own world of “empowerment” and “change” but he is growing more comfortable in front of the camera — at least when he is not giving a televised interview. So, on Monday, we watched him and Jairam Ramesh in a jugalbandi where they played question and answer at a public meeting. They were laughing, clearly enjoying themselves. On Tuesday, Gandhi was seen delivering a rousing speech in Guwahati (yes, Narendra Modi had already been there, done that). While Modi’s campaign speeches go out live on all news channels, Gandhi was seen and heard on channels like Times Now, Headlines Today, Zee News and of course that old faithful, DD News, but that’s about it.

After listening to the two top political leaders of the country, you can plainly see the difference. While Modi speaks of what he will do for the country in 60 months — after the mandatory reference to what he has done in Gujarat — Gandhi extols the achievements of the UPA/ Congress during its time in office. He is living in the past, Modi in the future. Perhaps  that is why Modi is leading the electoral race.

Have you noticed that political party spokespersons usually defend their respective outfits by attacking the opposition? No matter what they are asked. Take the BJP. Monday, Headlines Today had Sudhanshu Mittal in the studio to explain who was “funding the choppers” used by Modi. In reply, he waved the AAP’s list of donors and attacked the party. On Tuesday, NDTV 24×7 saw Prakash Javadekar attack the Congress on the Emergency when asked to explain the BJP’s intolerance of media criticism  in February 2014.

We’re so caught up in the daily dhishum-dhishum of the English news channels that the Hindi news channels are ignored. In which case you would have missed the highly entertaining if questionable sting, “Operation Pardahfash”, on Vindu Dara Singh by Zee News, where he cleared Sreesanth of all match-fixing and implicated people like Vijay Mallya and compared the IPL to WWE — entertainment, entertainment, entertainment. Speaking of entertainment, Mad in India (Star Plus) is the new stand-up comedy on the tube. It needs time to settle in. It needs Sunil Grover to grow out of Gutthi (his previous role on Comedy Nights with Kapil, Colors) and grow into his new role as the main attraction of Mad in India. On Sunday, he had some help from actors Govinda and Karisma Kapoor. They danced, they play-acted and shared a romantic interlude with a lauki.

India’s Got Talent (Colors) is doing a marvelous job of showcasing talented people who have overcome extraordinary handicaps. We have already seen Shubhreet Kaur, who dances like a swan on one leg, and on Sunday we saw Sai Jamshed, living with thalassemia, play the piano in such an accomplished manner, Kirron Kher was moved to remark, “You were beautiful!” You could almost imagine him accompanying virtuoso pianist Denis Matsuev at the Sochi Winter Games closing ceremony (Star Sports 2). Which was a real and rare treat. Were you there? If not, you missed something.

shailaja.bajpai @expressindia.com

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