Singing the Sangh’s songhttps://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/mohan-bhagwat-rss-conclave-media-coverage-5365359/

Singing the Sangh’s song

For TV channels and Bollywood celebrities, RSS conclave was the place to be

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, RSS, Mohan bhagwat, World Hindu Congress, Hindus, Hinduism, India News, Indian Express
RSS Chief Mohan Bhagawat addresses the 2nd World Hindu Congress, 2018 in Chicago. (PTI Photo)

Television news never ceases to surprise you. For instance, Sudarshan News — which has so many Indian flags in its studio, you wonder whether the channel does not protest too much its patriotic credentials — has been running some extraordinary campaigns/discussions. There was one that encouraged the growth of our (Hindu?) population, urging “everyone” to produce two children.

Then, there was a long discussion, a few weeks ago, on why and how we had allowed small Pakistans to flourish across the country. This week there was a much more sensible one on the need for a uniform civil code. Some of the views, expressed by people in the audience on the channel during these shows, do not bear repeating for their communal hatred. How is such a channel allowed to broadcast?

News X startled viewers, this week, with an exclusive on a “cabal” that was involved in a “KillRupeePlot”. With the rupee reaching an all time high or low, depending on how you look at it, you would naturally want to know more. The channel quoted a The Sunday Guardian story on a Delhi think tank, some brokers and traders along with government officials who still owe allegiance to the previous regime, conspiring to lower the value of the rupee. Hmmm.

Meanwhile, onto happier subjects. It was the prime minister’s birthday, Monday, and all channels gave extensive coverage to his interaction with children during his visit to Varanasi. DD News being DD News, informed us of all the ministers who greeted the PM on the day and since that must have been the entire Cabinet, it highlighted President Ram Nath Kovind and the Minister of Information and Broadcasting. It also featured a Banaras Hindu University student, strumming his guitar and singing, “Happy birthday to you”.

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The RSS may face an “intolerant” Opposition, which chose to “boycott” its conclave in New Delhi (Times Now), but whatever slight it may have felt by this should have been more than assuaged by the tolerant attitude of several news channels which applauded, #RSSReachesOut (Republic). “RSS badal raha hai sangh?” Zee asked in a rhetorical sort of way.

By the way, did you notice how the TV cameras singled out Bollywood personalities attending the conclave, like Anu Malik, Annu Kapoor, Manisha Koirala?

The video of BJP MP Nishikant Dubey offering his feet so that a very willing gentleman could wash them and then drink the water the said feet were washed in, ran on all channels with as much outrage as they could muster. Reaction? As we exclaim in Hindi, “Chhi”!

Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Bhopal brought out the best, or worst, in Aaj Tak: Noticing that posters plastered all over the city mentioned that the Congress President was a “Shiv bhakt”, the news channel asked: “Shiv Bhakt Shivraj (Chouhan) ko chunauti denge?’” Hindi news channels such as ABP, News India, India TV also pointed out Rahul’s soft Hindutva card and covered his bus ride through parts of the city quite extensively.

In entertainment, Nimki has been soundly thrashed by her husband, to the extent that he kicks her (Nimki Mukhiya, Star Bharat). But she is still standing and game for a fight to the end. Was it necessary, however, to show him beating her? And, very sad that the actress playing her mother-in-law has changed. No offence but Garima Singh was delightfully horrible in the role.

Meanwhile, Salman Khan is back as Bigg Boss (Colors). Not that we have been missing him, exactly, since he was playing host to many winners and losers on Dus Ka Dam (Sony). This year, the innovation in the reality show is that the contestants come in two by two, Noah’s Ark style. The pair getting the most traction is Anup Jalota and Jasleen. Cricketer Sreesanth is hogging the headlines already with will-he-won’t-he quit the show antics.

The viewers who enjoy all the bickering will get their time’s worth over the next few months, the rest of us can watch either Kaun Banega Crorepati (Sony) or Masterchef Australia (Star World).

Shah Rukh Khan is seen in an unusual role these days. He is promoting the remake of Kasauti Zindagi Ki, a familiar serial from Ektaa Kapoor’s stable. Those who loved Prerna and Anurag will get a chance to savour the remake; those who didn’t will perhaps discover why it was one of the most popular series of early this century. Coming soon.