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Guess what Times Now and Republic TV, often carrying identical content, finally disagreed on

On any given day, the two channels are practically mirror images of each other, with similar headlines, reports and opinion. But this issue broke that tradition.

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This is the story of how BJP President and Home Minister Amit Shah became ‘Amit TV star’, and Arnab Goswami told the BJP that “what is wrong is wrong” and the BJP was indeed wrong.

First, here’s a question. Who said the following?

“I have reservations over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill”, “I have problems with the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill”, “The BJP is trying to appease the Sangh Parivar”. The “issue” is of “illegal infiltration” — the issue was never about “religion”, “I have always said India is for Indians… now the BJP says India is for Pakistanis…” and Afghanis and Bangladeshis but not one Muslim can “walk into India” — “This is ridiculous”,  “I am against the changes in the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill…”

Your options are: (a) Rahul Gandhi (b) Asaduddin Owaisi (c) Mehbooba Mufti (d) Mamata Banerjee and (e) None of the above

Answer: Arnab Goswami.

Also read: Pawar to Modi-Shah, easy to tell which TV channel Indian politicians will give interviews to

Doing the impossible

Yes ‘ladies and gentlemen’, as he is fond of saying, the love-me-or-hate-me and I-don’t-give-a-damn editor-in-chief of Republic TV told the BJP, politely but firmly, that it is making a big “mistake” on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on his nightly TV news show ‘The Debate’.

It must be the first time in on-the-record memory that the media cheerleader-in-chief of the ruling party has publicly opposed the BJP’s top brass. However, it’s not all that unexpected: “I am from Assam”, Goswami admitted on his 9 pm show last week and in the past few days, news channels have shown Assam go up in flames during protests over the contentious bill. Goswami insists he speaks on CAB “as an Indian”. But we don’t have to believe everything he says, do we?

Of course, Goswami has carefully balanced his criticism of the BJP with his customary contempt for the Congress “the party which is the most communal and has divided the country…”.

Also read: CAB protests a battle for India – either we are a secular state or we aren’t India at all

Times Now vs Republic TV

Still, the very fact that he dared to go against the BJP is ‘sensational’ news, almost deserving a ‘Goswami v/s BJP’ or ‘#ArnabCABwar’ breaking news headline. Especially since his former employer and co-cheerleader, Times Now, is leading the BJP’s #CABwar.

On any given day, the two channels are practically mirror images of each other, with similar headlines, reports and opinion articles. On CAB, however, the contrast couldn’t be more compelling: while Republic TV said there were “massive protests across the country” against the CAB Tuesday, Times Now had “various protests against the bill.”

While Goswami told viewers why he disagreed with Modi-Shah on the bill, Times Now anchors Rahul Shivshankar and Navika Kumar played dictionary. They were at pains to explain what the BJP meant by what it said on the CAB, and then defended it against the “misleading” opposition.

For example, Kumar told us Monday that Amit Shah had refuted “each and every contention (of the Opposition), pointing out that the bill protects minorities who have nowhere else to go…”. The poor dears.

The bill only “deals” with citizenship — “Muslims can still seek asylum in India”, she added kindly. The Tamils of Sri Lanka and the Hindus in Myanmar are out of the bill’s “ambit”, so “how come this bill is communal then?”, she asked the opposition.

Also read: Here’s why you will watch Arnab Goswami & Navika Kumar long after election results are out

Shah the star

While we were entertained by the latest exploits of our TV anchors, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill scripted history. And if there is one person who has written it into history books, it is Amitabh Anilchandra Shah.

Shah is the star of the Citizenship Bill (“Shah ka shandaar goal” — ABP), of the dilution of Article 370, of the BJP, and on television. As TV news would put it, ‘Shah chha gaya TV pe’.

Since August, the Union Home Minister has been an almost permanent fixture on TV, appearing probably more often than any other politician in the country, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi who, coincidentally, stepped back after his successful ‘Howdy Modi’ moment in September.

Amit Shah has replaced Narendra Modi — as the newsmaker, as the face of the BJP in the media: this week’s CAB in Parliament saw the debate framed by TV news as a battle between him and the opposition — ‘Shah takes on Oppn’ (India Today).

The PM was on Jharkhand’s campaign trail for the assembly election and barely in the picture while no other BJP leader who spoke on the bill was given as much spotlight. The most we see of other BJP leaders is when they are lucky enough to be seated next to Shah and are included in the photo frame.

Shah’s Lok Sabha speech Monday was played repeatedly by all news channels throughout the day — it’s a measure of how seriously he is being taken that Rajya Sabha TV blacked out opposition heckling Shah while he spoke Wednesday.

Also read: On Citizenship Bill, Modi and Amit Shah don’t really care what Supreme Court will say

The Shahen(shah)

From the Kashmir issue to the political crisis in Maharashtra, Ayodhya or even the Special Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2019, it is Shah who speaks for the Modi government and the party in public, and in the media. This is understandable since he is the Home Minister, but he has two deputies in his ministry — do you even know their names?

As for the BJP, it has a Working President in J.P. Nadda, but when did you last see him or hear from him? Oh sure, he spoke on the CAB Wednesday in the Rajya Sabha, but his statements didn’t make it to the headlines.

Shah gave interviews after the dilution of Article 370 scrapping the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir (India Today, CNBC TV 18); he was interviewed by Goswami even as the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government was being formed.

And when Times Now advertises its interview show ‘Frankly Speaking’ with Navika Kumar, it’s Amit Shah who gets pride of place.

Shah is Shahenshah, it’s as simple as that.

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  1. The Print, Quint, Wire are all same and branches of Ndtv! Who has courage to write an article on this? .

  2. Arnab is a known liar. Sardesai exposed him.

    Rahul was Arnab s side kick. Learnt from him.
    Including how to lie ?

    What the nation wants to know

    US ON T V.
    They are a disgrace to the profession

  3. Don’t be fooled. Arnab spoke against CAB only because he personally comes from Assam. Had CAB affected any other part of the country instead of Assam, Arnab wouldn’t give a damn. Even within CAB, he only cares about the Assamese sentiments and has no empathy towards the sentiments of crores of Muslims, CAB would be affecting.. It’s only because his own home is burning, that he has a problem.. He would have no problems if rather only Muslim homes would burn. He a bigot right to his core..

  4. Arnab Gossip has been going down in my esteem for sometime. He appears tensed up and hyperstrung and many times loses focus. His latest assault on citizenship bill proved that. How can he support a revert back to so called rights of indigenous people forgetting the dream of men like Chandragupt and Kanishka of one India one nation So I say dump Arnab in the Brahmputra.

  5. Republic TV has some lousy unqualified narrow minded opposition PANELISTS.
    I am seeing stupid one sided MUSLIM supporters panalists. Sick of seeing such lousy idiotic panalists. Republic TV cannot continue much longer with SUCH senseless panalists.
    THEY just keep on shouting not really related to the subject matter, but they divert the issue and keep on screaming with no sense.
    According to me this is not journalism.
    THE Republic TV should and must WISELY change the PANALISTS according to the Subject being discussed.
    THE opposition panalists are same for all the subjects. Please put some brains to what I am saying. Please don’t bring brainless fundamentalists. THEY will never think good of the Country India. Arnab should not give so much mileage to such lousy characters.
    I may disagree with some in Republic TV, but I think I am reasonably correct.
    I did my Master’s DEGREE in COMMUNICATIONS ARTS from New York Institute of Technology, NEW YORK.

  6. @anon as an Indian Tamilian in all honesty, not my problem! We’ve a population crisis on our hands and we can’t be accepting ppl just for their religion or language. They might have the same language and religion but they aren’t Indian!! Plan & Simple

    • Similarly Hindus and others from favoured religions who were living in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh for last 70 years should be considered non Indians.

  7. Why only these two channels? What about NDTV and India Today? Do they not sing the same song? Of course, in India Today, Rahul Kanwar sometimes does the balancing act! And what about The Print and The Wire?

  8. I have been watching Arnab Goswami for many years.Though he is a Nationalist,no doubt but has a very bad habit as you see in his debates. He doesn’t stop or lower the voice of screaming panelists most of them are a same group having anti India views. Viewers hardly hear anything properly. Times Now anchors do not encourage such people.

  9. did Shahenshah bite off more than his party can chew? will CAB be the Waterloo of BJP? the thing is that one can piss-off some of the people some of the time but if one pisses off too many people for too long, one fails.

  10. You seem to think that the Rivalry between Times Now and Republic is some kind of spectator sports? Well, we too enjoy the rivalry: “The Republic is watching Times Now” (Times Now). On the issue of CAB, of the channels I watch, Mirror Now tried to mislead the viewers. Times Now, Republic, CNN, News X fairly acknowledged that CAB does not affect the citizenship of Indian Muslims. Thank heavens for this change in Media. Six years back, there was not one friend of India in the media.

  11. Why should I get to know what some party mouthpiece says about anything. The contempt for him and his ilk had made me cancel all TVmedia, If you join the parade, off goes the print too.

  12. Apart from religious we have an ethnic identity as well which we would like to protect. That’s the dilemma of Arnab. Btw what about Tamil Hindu refugees from Sri Lanka.?

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