On Wednesday, when Mallikarjun Kharge began to speak on “Lalitgate”/ “Modigate”, it was the first time in this parliamentary session that we heard our honourable members speak. Not shout, not chant slogans, but speak. An unusual phenomenon, one to be cherished because you never know when MPs will be allowed to speak again (PS: Proceedings were disrupted soon after and Sushma Swaraj was drowned out).
So did Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s request that Lok Sabha ( LSTV) broadcast the commotion on Tuesday succeed where all else had failed? Did the protesting Congress members, seen making a spectacle of themselves on Tuesday as LSTV dutifully trained its guns, sorry cameras, on the unruly opposition, receive poor feedback on their antics from their constituents and families? Maybe, and maybe not, but Mahajan made the right call.
Why didn’t LSTV and RSTV (Rajya Sabha TV) telecast the disorderly conduct throughout the session? There is a belief that by showing the proceedings as they are, for what they are, gives undue publicity to the trouble-makers and encourages them to continue their unbecoming behaviour.
The counter is that live coverage of the antics exposes parties and individuals. If you saw your father jump up and down, scream and generally behave as they do in Parliament, and if you knew that millions were also watching him, would you be flattered or embarrassed?
Millions watched as the prime minister spoke and spoke and spoke. At a Gaya BJP election rally on Sunday, broadcast across news channels, Narendra Modi gave a free lesson in public-speaking to anyone who cared to learn. First and most important principle: Repeat after me. Throughout his speech he used this technique: “Uttarakhand mein xxx engineering colleges hain?(2) Kitni? (2) “Aur Bihar mein kitni? Kitni? (2). Bihar mein xxx engineering colleges hain. Kitni?” Very effective rhetoric.
Some news anchors have picked up the trick from him. Last year, John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight had satirised news anchor Arnab Goswami’s repetitiveness. On Monday night, Barkha Dutt repeated, “Alka, Alka, Alka…” at least eight times in a row before Delhi’s AAP MLA Alka Lamba bothered with her (NDTV 24×7). An ugly debate that, with Lamba and BJP Delhi MLA O.P. Sharma exchanging unpleasant pleasantries:
“She was not in her right senses (when she raided shops in Delhi).” Lamba replied, “Of course, I am a gundi, I am an addict…” To which Sharma snapped, “If you try that (shop raids) again, the consequences will be grave.”
Radhe Maa, begging her pardon, didn’t look in her right senses when we saw footage of her dancing. Hindi news channels were quite taken by her charms and her red “miniskirt”. ABP, News Nation and India News led the way with a line-up of sadhus and sants debating her “magic”. Actor Rishi Kapoor set the tone by asking, “She is human, how can you call her god?” (NDTV 24×7).
An ungodly row followed on most news channels, with several sants quite supportive of Radhe Maa. Swami Raghunandan said, so what if she dresses and behaves as she does, you attack her because she’s a woman (APB). Someone else said her clothes were irrelevant, “Hamam mein hum sab nange hain”, which set off loud protests from the others. As for dancing, why, said Mahamandaleshwar Martand Puri, “She could be dancing to god.”
On India News, we met Rekha, her hair stylist, who said she was not her stylist but her devotee, and Gagan Shastri, who asked, so what if people give her money? A surprised anchor asked Shastri ji if he was taking Radhe Maa’s side in order to get more time on air.
Another day on a news channel debate.