From the smiles on their faces and the spring in their steps, you would think they had just won the Lok Sabha elections. Most of them didn’t bother to contain their glee, some were so overjoyed they forgot themselves, none more so than Arnab Goswami on Republic TV, who in his moment of triumph, was so delirious that he mistook Sunny Deol for Sunny Leone — and neither are likely to forgive.
Arnab Goswami took the 2019 Lok Sabha election verdict so personally that at one stage, he promised viewers in Australia, New Zealand and south east Asia “a gripping 12 hours… this is a vote for unity… we will fight all those who try to divide us…”
On “Super Thursday”, as CNN News 18 called it, TV news anchors celebrated the ‘Modi wave’ (Republic), the ‘Modi cyclone’ (India Today), “Modi tsunami” and “aandhi” (CNN News 18) in style.
Bhupendra Chaubey was on his feet, grinning as he declared half an hour into the counting that the indefatigable Narendra Modi “was running really fast” with the numbers and could create a ‘world record” (CNN News 18).
India Today’s Rajdeep Sardesai, dressed for the occasion in a bandh gala and kerchief peeking out of his pocket, did a few pirouettes as the leads came in thick and fast, indicating a BJP “landslide”. He said he expected cheesecake from the Prime Minister’s Office — his co-anchor Rahul Kanwal said he would get ‘dhokla’ more likely and they both had a hearty laugh.
“You should not react so jubilantly,” Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi told them, but they were not listening.
On Times Now, Rahul Shivshankar was quite serious but Navika Kumar had a grin across her face, almost throughout. On Zee News, Sudhir Chaudhary had a smug smile of satisfaction as the BJP’s Giriraj Singh complimented him for consistently calling the election for Modi. Why, even NDTV-India’s Ravish Kumar, known to be a staunch ‘liberal’, dared to laugh.
Things were subdued at NDTV 24×7 where the Prannoy Roy-led panel looked askance at a result they had not seen coming on their travels through the country.
At ABP News, the anchors were shouting out the trends until they were hoarse (by the way, they showed great imagination in launching the seat share figures from INS Viraat – yes, the same one that former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had allegedly partied on with his family in 1993 – seated inside helicopters).
As the early trends of the 2019 polls became an overwhelming victory for the BJP-led NDA, anchors became impatient of anyone who might enter a caveat or two: “This is a Modi wave, why aren’t you saying it… call a spade a spade,” Bhupendra Chaubey chided panelists Ajoy Bose – even before he had uttered a word (CNN News 18).
“You must acknowledge a wave,” Rajdeep Sardesai ordered Abhishek Manu Singhvi (India Today). It is worth pointing out that Singhvi was the only senior Congress leader to be seen anywhere near a TV news studio.
On Times Now, Navika Kumar roundly scolded Tehseen Poonawalla: Modi is leading in 20 minority-dominated seats, she said at noon. “How dare you call him divisive?”
As for Congress president Rahul Gandhi, ABP News pityingly referred to him as the ‘babua’ defeated by the ‘jaadu of the ’56-inch chest…’
Across the channels, you heard funeral orations and the “point blank question”. Navika Kumar asked Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh: Did the Congress need a change of leadership? His point-blank answer: “No”.
On Republic TV, Goswami said the people of Uttar Pradesh wanted the ‘Vadra parivar’ to get ‘out’ of the state. He then delivered a diatribe. This has become something of a habit with him, recently. Watch him scream in deranged delight over opposition complaints about EVMs.
Never ignore Mental Health Issues or this could happen to you. pic.twitter.com/8AiOjvxsgi
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It would not be an exaggeration to say that the joy in newsrooms, expressed by the TV anchors, outweighed that of their BJP guests. The latter were calm and composed as if it had been a foregone conclusion.
Which it was, had you watched Sunday’s exit polls. That could explain the TV anchors’ happiness — all of them had predicted a crushing victory for Modi. “CNN IPSOS exit poll spot on,” exulted CNN News 18 Thursday, reflecting the news channels’ correct predictions. Only ABP News and NewsX had given the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) only 260 plus seats — others had gone with 300 and above.
As Thursday stretched into the afternoon, the happiness in the TV studios over the results spilled out and spread wide and far: Mirror Now announced that the leaders of Nepal, Israel and from around the world were eagerly lining up to congratulate Narendra Modi.