Telescope: Can you spell Yeddyurappa?

Karnataka polls are all about viewers in North India.

Written by Shailaja Bajpai | Updated: May 10, 2018 12:08:15 am
BJP vs Congress in Karnataka Assembly Elections 2018 BJP vs Congress in Karnataka Assembly Elections 2018

Good morning India, AM here with the latest news.

Luckily, North, East, West and South (NEWS) India are in same time zone, so we are one nation, one tick-tock. Not like PM Modi’s “friend” Trump, one of his many global “mitron” — a term of endearment he now uses infrequently — who had to wait till after lunch in Washington for those in San Francisco to finish their breakfast before he told them they had opted out of the Iran nuclear deal. It was midnight for me, and all I saw was his white eye shadow…

Anyway, yesterday’s news: In Karnataka, Modi was on a whirlwind tour, powered by the force of his own personality because the storm in the north had fizzled out. The Congress president was also on a whirlwind tour, powered by his newly disclosed ambition to be prime minister. Immediately, my colleagues set off on a wild chase of an improbable 2019 Congress victory, with very serious debates on Rahul’s competence to be PM.

Lucky boy, he has some assistance from “Mama Mia” who we saw give a rally speech in Karnataka for the first time this election on Tuesday. No, not in her mother tongue but in Hindi which is not the lingua franca in Karnataka either, but who cares? Viewers in the North will understand — and that’s what matters to us, right?

Modi attacked Rahul. The Congress president insulted the PM. Their “blame-game” has been the story of this campaign: Why, they’re better trading partners, in insults, than the US and China in goods. We’re delighted, of course, makes our job easy: “A battle between kaamdaar and naamdaar” (CNN News 18); “Modi accuses Congress of 6Cs”. Rahul attacks Modi on 6Ds.

The “RaGa vs NaMo” battle in Karnataka works very nicely for our viewership figures, thank you very much. We’re already planning taglines — “Maidan-e Jung” in Madhya Pradesh, “Chhattisgarh ka Challenge” and “Rajasthan’s Royal Battle” — thank you, IPL — starring the PM and the man who would like to replace him, for the forthcoming state polls.

Okay, not as amusing as Jamie Oliver on Donald and Stormy Daniels (wonder why US Met didn’t issue a weather alert to Trump about her?) but then Modi and Rahul don’t have orange hair, Melania or Daniels. My producer whispers that I meant John Oliver not Jamie — he’s the chef. Maybe I made the mistake on account of watching Elections on My Plate with Rajdeep Sardesai (India Today) which taught me more about idli-sambhar than the Karnataka elections, but I suppose you can’t have your plate and eat it too — never did understand what that meant.

In “Karnataka Kurukshetra” (TV 9), the anchor had a complaint: We are only showing PM NM and CP RG, why? Names like Siddaramaiah and Yeddyurappa are too long for our headlines, that’s why. What about development? Well, if the PM doesn’t care about “vikas” why should we? Anyway, who wants to listen to Sidda and Yeddy speak in their mother tongue? Bad for our ratings.

My producer says we must now return to Rahul wanting to be PM — or does she mean wanting to be NaMo, and aren’t they one and the same thing? Other channels got there before us: Times Now and Republic headlining, “I will be PM”, “I will be your PM in 2019” while India Today says, “Rahul stakes claim to be PM”. Whom to believe? Never mind believing, says my producer, and shouts angrily in my ear, just put out “I am PM in 2019”. I protest: Asked if he would be PM in 2019, RG’s exact words were: “It depends on how well the Congress does in the elections. I mean, if it emerges as the largest party, yes”. Producer ignores me.

In a super-duper exclusive, I have been promised an exclusive interview with BJP President Amit Shah if I take a bumpy ride with him wherever he goes. All news channels have his interview — Zee, Times Now, even News X, so what’s the exclusive, I ask. Exclusive is that you got an interview, replies the tetchy producer.

Before we take a break, today’s exclusive headlines: Modi’s whirlwind tour stronger than winds crashing through North India; Sonia speaks to Vokkaligas, Lingayats, etc, in Modi’s mother tongue; Rahul elected PM of India, fake news probe ordered by I&B Minister Smriti Irani; “massive loss of face for Congress” everywhere from J&K to the Supreme Court and beyond.

Debating tonight, who looks better in their portraits hung in the rogues gallery of Partition — M A Jinnah or V D Savarkar? Panelists: Whoever painted them into this corner.

Okay, off to Veere di Wedding, sorry Sonam Kapoor’s reception. I am doing the bhangra to her sangeet videos on Hindi news channels in the powder room where the make-up man makes us look like TV anchors, when the producer yanks me out: It’s midnight, other news channels are with the Election Commissioner in Bengaluru over ID row, so she wants me to be the only one with a retired Indian diplomat in the studio discussing Donald Trump pulling out of Iran nuclear deal.

Now who can I pull out of bed? Mani Shankar Aiyar? He’ll make the headlines at any hour.

shailaja.bajpai@expressindia.com

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