Sparring over dehati aurat,toilets and temples.
The smoke had subsided,the mirrors had been taken down and the TV lights had been switched off. But on Twitter,Geo TVs Hamid Mir continued to champion the dehati aurat who had made him Narendra Modis favourite Pakistani. Kaam bhi karti hai,gaali bhi khati hai, Mir tweeted admiringly,while steadfastly dodging queries about who exactly had mentioned the fatal aurat,and whom the barb had been directed at. The absurd drama made food a divisive issue. Is it healthy for Indian journalists to eat Pakistani sweets,Modi demanded to know. For that matter,was it proper for Mir,Nawaz Sharif and Barkha Dutt to help each other juggle a hot potato?
In his counterblast to the nation from Bhuj on Independence Day,Narendra Modi had said that his words were better audible in Pakistan than they were in Delhi,on account of proximity. Now,it looks like two-way traffic. Is Narendra Modi watching too much Geo TV? Is following Hamid Mir very nationalistic? Something lacking in our own nationalist,Arnab Goswami? So many disturbing questions.
Meanwhile,IBN reports that a Rs 40 crore biopic of Modi,with Paresh Rawal playing the lead,will go on the sets in February. The timing makes it a novelty that could inspire head-scratching in the Election Commission. Is shooting a flattering picture kosher under the Model Code of Conduct? Is publishing puff pieces about the movie in the media all right? Or would these be seen as surrogate advertising? The channel did not explore these interesting possibilities.
On Thursday,the media went ape as its most reliable provider of one-liners for two decades,the colourful but corrupt Lalu Prasad Yadav,was put away from the cameras gaze for five years. Thats a lot of history to leave behind,and it was kind of touching when the cameras stayed with the story,even when they could only show a tuft of white hair on the head,not the ears peeking through the crowd. Lalu had first made an impression visually,in still pictures. TV was kind of stunted at the time,video had barely dawned but the print media were splashed with pictures of this new,earthy chief minister,so different from the dreadful Jagannath Mishra (who now shares jail space with him). A man who shaved with an old-style razor and tended his cattle himself in a banian and chequered lungi. Yes,his cattle. An irony of history.
It was a huge story but amazingly,within a few hours,the focus had changed to the toilet wars. Headlines Today took pole position with an interview of Jairam Ramesh,who wondered what had transpired,apart from Modis candidacy,between October 5 last year,when the BJP had turned out in strength to urinate outside his house for putting toilets before temples,and October 2 this year,when Modi had the same epiphany. Rahul Kanwal played devils advocate with creepy intensity,asking why there is resistance to Modi when he stands for development,when he does the needful,like demolishing temples and mosques on an unprecedented scale. He also asked why the PM was avoiding a debate with Modi,who is always spoiling for a fight. Ramesh gave a rather good account of himself,suggesting that Modi prefers preaching,sermonising and lecturing to debate. Untested,he could be rather bad at it,he suggested.
By the way,have you noticed how trending Twitter hashtags have become reliable barometers of news television? Last weeks #callofftalks has glissandoed into #killthebill this week. Why dont they make a tag that says what theyre all dying to say,across party lines: #shootdeduck?