SHORT OF trying to interview the AgustaWestland helicopter itself, TV news has tried to get “exclusive” interviews with everyone. Even drivers. Narayan Bahadur, who chauffeured middleman Christian Michel while he was in Delhi, would never have even imagined as he tootled around the capital with his employee, that one day he would be driving the news.
Approximately 10 days ago, he was subjected to a Times Now inquisition; on Tuesday, it was India Today. Not that they got any state secrets out of him but you’ve got to give news TV an “E” for Effort.
Another driver made it to Wednesday’s headlines when Indrani Mukherjea’s man behind the wheel, Shyam M. Rai, reportedly offered to turn approver in the Sheena Bora case. Clearly, it is important to be driven, one way or the other. Sonia Gandhi need have no worries — she’s been described as the “driving force” in a note written by Agusta middleman Michel. Little wonder she went into fourth gear after PM Modi gave her an Italian dressing (down?) — listen to her speech in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday and think of another Gandhi with drive, Indira G.
Speaking of Michel, he was interviewed by India Today in Dubai by Sanjay Bragta and said, among many other things, that driver Narayan was a family retainer and he would look after him. The British middleman denied having ever met Sonia, Dr Manmohan Singh or even “St Antony” and pointed the finger at Gautam Khaitan instead. Anchors Rahul Kanwal and Gaurav Sawant saw through his clever manouevre: By deflecting allegations against politicians, he’s basically deflecting attention from himself, right?
India Today is on the fast inner lane when it comes to interviews: Last week it had BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy who clearly drove Karan Thapar to exasperation with his comments: “She (Sonia) is a suspect. She should be questioned. She is guilty in this matter…” and then Arun Shourie who probably drove Modi mad with criticism of his “one man show”, his narcissism and how he was “remorseless”.
Many people, including BJP President Amit Shah and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, will agree that Arvind Kejriwal can drive anyone up the wall. On Monday, they applied the brakes on his questioning of Modi’s educational qualifications by holding up Modi’s graduate and post-graduate degrees for media scrutiny. The AAP stepped on the gas immediately, holding its own press conference, citing spelling and date discrepancies in the said degrees.
While the two of them fought it out, Nitish Kumar was caught between Rocky and a hard place when he was accused of allowing “jungle raj” to flourish in Bihar once more. Rocky Yadav allegedly shot dead Aditya (19) after the latter had the temerity to overtake his SUV in Gaya, Bihar, in a fit of road rage. He then fled and made TV headlines with Times Now the “driving force” behind the hot pursuit. As it chased Rocky and his mother JD(U) MLA Manorama Devi on Monday and Tuesday, it barely found time for the Uttarakhand floor test.
The BJP was driven into a corner once the BSP decided to vote with the Congress and Harish Rawat in Uttarakhand. On TV, it lamely argued that President’s Rule had been the right decision at the time of its imposition but even spokesperson Sambit Patra spluttered and stalled.
Interested in news, not “Breaking News’? Watch Cyrus Broacha and his band of merry women and men (The News That Wasn’t, CNN News 18). As AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa promised the moon, the stars and perhaps even Mercury as it passed across the sun among many freebies, what was the BJP offering voters? “Free tea”, of course, said Broacha. In a quiz, following news of the deletion of Nehru’s name from school textbooks in Rajasthan, the anchor asked: Who is the first prime minister of India? Narendra Modi, chorused the children.
Time to drive on.