Telescope: A subtle shift of power

Channels used to slamming the Congress president are giving him more space.

Written by Shailaja Bajpai | Updated: May 3, 2018 12:08:54 am
Congress president Rahul Gandhi Congress president Rahul Gandhi

There are power struggles, and then there are power struggles. Last Friday, the Centre and the Supreme Court (SC) continued their tug of war on the appointment of judges over the elevation of Justice K M Joseph to the SC — another episode of Adalat, starring the two protagonists — not Ronit Roy — was very likely played out on Wednesday.

At approximately the same time on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping were struggling to understand each other through interpreters as they sought to gain the upper hand in their ding-dong — or should we say, ping-pong — battle of nerves after last year’s standoff at Doklam. Our news channels contacted every retired foreign service officer they thought would know something about India and China to analyse the Xi-Modi’s lakeside walk.

Further east, North Korea’s President Kim Jung-un was holding hands and crossing — or building — bridges with South Korean President Moon Jae-in to end the longstanding standoff between the two countries. BBC World and CNN International — which intermittently reported on the Xi-Modi informal summit — devoted themselves to the study of the two men’s body language and decided they understood each other very well without the good offices of US President Trump.

Back in India, Rahul Gandhi launched a power packed broadside on the PM at an “Aakrosh” rally in Delhi on Sunday which most news channels telecast — barring Zee News and DD News of course.

And in the continuing — infelicitously called — “War”-nataka (CNN News 18), Tuesday saw the PM take up Rahul’s “15 minutes-to-win-it” challenge and fling down the gauntlet — not once but thrice in the day at different campaign rallies across Karnataka (Republic TV helpfully re-telecast most of the speeches in the evening, just in case you, like Modi, were a “kaamdaar” and too busy to watch him live during the day).

Who would win the lung power slugfest? Watch out for the next episode in the Modi-Rahul bout.

Ah, the hyphenation. Have you noticed in the last few months, and noticeably in the last few weeks, a power shift between the PM and the “naamdaar” in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections? News channels give more space to RG’s rallies, speeches and comments. For instance, on Monday, reports on the stamping of young men with “SC” “ST” marks of identification in Madhya Pradesh, carried his critical tweets.”Rahul slams government” (Republic) and “Rahul’s frontal attack” (Times Now) — these were headlines on channels accustomed to slamming the Congress President and mounting frontal attacks on him.

Meanwhile, Lalu Prasad discovered what happens to politicians when they are out of power: Jailed on corruption charges, there was “chaos” (Republic) when Lalu left the AIIMS hospital on Monday as he alleged unfair eviction. Just what the doctor ordered for news channels looking for a “tamasha”.

And news channels called out UP CM Yogi Adityanath for what they saw as his insensitive abuse of power — and the loudspeaker in his hand. Speaking after 13 children died in a train crossing bus accident in UP on Friday, he ordered the public to stop their “nautanki” when they protested. Nautanki aap, they ought to have replied

The biggest show of power this week, however, came after the PM’s announcement that “every single village of India now has access to electricity”. The Congress claimed it had given power to the people, the BJP countered that it had em-”powered” them faster, while TV reporters (CNN News 18, India Today, NDTV India) fanned out across the country looking for dark spots — and finding them — without electricity. ET Now, NDTV 24×7, CNBC News 18 discussed 100 per cent electrification and what it means, cogently so that you came away actually better informed.

Similarly, Times Now looked at (un)employment data in an intelligent debate— what’s happening to TV news?

Here’s a suggestion for political parties: If you really want to find out who will be in power after the Karnataka assembly polls and the Lok Sabha elections, why not visit Mirchi Malini? Present before her a dish your party/leader has cooked and the redoubtable lady, will tell you your fortune after tasting it. Mirchi Malini tasted success and failure in Sujoy Ghosh Presents, a series of three telefilms for Star Plus (Sunday). Along with Good Luck and Copy, Malini livened up the afternoon with some seriously weird stories although not sure all three should have been shown together.

And in “Jungle news”, there’s new horse power: News Nation caught a stallion playing the piano..

shailaja.bajpai@expressindia.com

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