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It’s 4 pm on Sunday,and the IPL encounter between Delhi Daredevils and Bangalore Royal Challengers has just begun when a young man throws...

Written by Shailaja Bajpai |
April 28, 2009 1:20:17 am

It’s 4 pm on Sunday,and the IPL encounter between Delhi Daredevils and Bangalore Royal Challengers has just begun when a young man throws a shoe and disrupts the match. For once,the news channels keep it straight and simple,none of those clever puns — ‘Attempt to throw shoe at PM’ —  and we’re shown the offending footwear (for the rest of the evening),lonesome without its partner while Dr Manmohan Singh extols the virtues of the Gujarati people. Little did he expect a tattered sole in return. Shoe manufacturers beware: the law book will soon be thrown at you. 

The young man has since claimed he wanted attention and probably realised that the cheapest and best way was to shoe off (now,that’s the kind of headline news channels would appreciate) on TV. Breaking News,of course,obliged and went on another leather hunt — or in this case,rubber run.  

Ironically,the prime minister’s wife,Gursharan Kaur,faced a footwear problem of her own. When she met Michelle Obama at the G-20 meeting,she saw that she was much shorter and said so to the first lady of America who told her not to worry — she would take off her heels. Meanwhile,Dr Singh was asking President Obama for his autograph on behalf of his family. Such small talk made up a first ever TV interview with Dr Singh’s immediate family on CNN-IBN with Suhasini Haider,where his wife and two daughters spoke of the prime minister’s love for his work,his mother’s cooking,how he cannot cook himself but did do the dishes when they lived abroad,why he always wears white (he likes to) and how his wife shrugs off the ‘weakness’ jibes: “kuchh to log kahenge…’ Relaxed and enjoyable. 

Meanwhile,Priyanka Gandhi was baring her soul to Barkha Dutt as they sat companionably together on the green,green grass of— Rae Bareli,was it? The cosy chat was not so much about politics as her reluctance to join politics although she admitted she was in politics. We heard Priyanka’s inner voice much as her mother had once heard her own,and it told her not to be in politics. There was more about why she admired her mother,did not fear for her brother,Sri Lanka,etc. It was a mild and contemplative Priyanka,giving insights into the state of her mind but it left you wondering why,in the middle of an election campaign,she had given an exclusive if she’s not keen on being in politics. The fact that NDTV India devoted an entire programme to her possible political career suggested that the more she protests,the less the media at least,believes her.  

This election has seen the Congress unleash its first families on the public. During the last four years,Dr Singh’s family and the Gandhis have remained under wraps. While Sonia Gandhi confines herself to campaign speeches,the prime minister and Rahul Gandhi have taken to the airwaves by the simple strategy of holding televised press conferences,apart from their electioneering. BJP’s L.K. Advani has been equally eager to give interviews,so we’re seeing a keen political media contest between the top contenders for power. In the case of the Congress,we’re getting two first families for one election. Given that both are personable,articulate and have not been overexposed thus far,it is going down well with the viewer. But as we are fond of saying,will it translate into votes?   

The one person who has been interviewed by everyone,including Doordarshan,is CPM’s Prakash Karat. Each time he takes aim at the prime minister,the latest on News 24 where he said the next prime minister should belong to the Lok Sabha. With Advani & Co raining punches on Dr Manmohan Singh too,the PM is on the receiving end of left hooks and right jabs. 

shailaja.bajpai@expressindia.com

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