People Talking Without Listening

The recent election results threw up several entertaining but hollow arguments

Written by Pratik Kanjilal | Published: December 14, 2013 5:21:47 am

Sitting in Delhi and coming to TV studios will not make them leaders,sir!” said Rajdeep Sardesai in the midst of the Congress rout,demanding to know from Shashi Tharoor why young leaders like Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Sinha are not posted to their home states for five years. How suicidal! Such political prudence would wipe out gab TV and the interventionist role that it has carved out for itself. Role model Arnab Goswami,who backed Anna Hazare’s campaign early and can take part credit for the momentum developed by the Aam Aadmi Party,was quite overcome. “I think what you have done is phenomenal,” he told his proteges. Pointing to a perceived NOTA rate of 0.5 per cent in Delhi with quiet dignity,he proclaimed the end of cynicism and the return of public faith in democracy.

But Rahul Kanwal was hitting the high notes every day. He was beside himself with glee on Sunday morning as the trends started coming in. He showed a social media image of Kejriwal and his colleagues sitting on the floor,“watching TV like the rest of us”. TV marvelling at a TV creation watching TV. Watching me watching you watching the world go by,to riff off Jethro Tull.

Kanwal was in high spirits through the week. When Nitin Gadkari began to work the channels to try and break the deadlock in Delhi,Kanwal reminded him that he had dismissed AAP as a “chillar party”,but now they had broken the bank. Gadkar affably conceded that AAP was a Rs 1,000 note (ironically,later the same day,he offered to devalue Rs 1,000 notes). “Jackpot hai,jackpot!” protested Kanwal,promising that the party would make greaters strides yet. Which reminded Gadkari of Mungerilal ke Haseen Sapne.

Meanwhile,ABP News caught the best of the nightmare at Ralegan Siddhi,where Anna Hazare told AAP leader Gopal Rai to get out of the village if he would not stop sounding off at Gen VK Singh,who had criticised his party. Their correspondent got a scathing statement from Rai,about those who try to keep one toe in the Anna camp while getting cosy with Narendra Modi.

NDTV is on a roll,with an entertainingly aggressive interview of Gadkari,in which he spoke of the “perverse mentality” of a class that wants the Congress out but won’t let the BJP in. It sounds so inhumanly cruel that he could probably take this class to court at the Hague. Besides,Barkha Dutt reprised the success of her shows during the original agitation for the repeal of Article 377,the high point being an interview of Vikram Seth of such poetic force and economy that everyone now thinks he’s an expert on homosexuality. And earlier,on Sunday,she did an excellent interview with Arvind Kejriwal,in which he first said that he was against the politics of “tod-phod” and would not seek the support of either the Congress or the BJP,a position which held good at least until yesterday evening. Indeed,he suggested that since these parties were identically kleptocratic,they were ideal partners in government.

It was precisely this “everyone else is a thief” logic that Gadkari had gone on TV to laugh off,but while he was most entertaining,the arguments rang hollow. Yet,it was not half as damaging as the low,grating note sounded by Rajiv Pratap Rudy,among other representatives of the two major parties. Let the newbie come to the playing field,they said,in essence. We’ll teach them the game. The bleakness of this promise may have lost the big boys a few more votes in the battles still to come.

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