Tuesday, 9 August, 2022
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Congress, Gandhis targets on Times Now, Republic, Bihar’s Covid crisis on India Today

A quick take on what prime time TV news talked about.

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New Delhi: Wednesday’s prime time debates centered around… the Congress party’s Gandhi family — so what else is new?

In this instance it was specifically about their trusts that are currently the subject of a probe, and Sachin Pilot’s removal from his state party posts. Meanwhile, India Today focused on Bihar’s unimpressive Covid management, while NDTV India was still on the case of jailed Dalit scholar Anand Teltumbde who spent his 70th birthday in a Mumbai prison.

First up, the Gandhis. Times Now‘s Rahul Shivshankar debated the probe into the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and other Gandhi family trusts, and highlighted an alleged land allotment scandal in which the rules of the allotment were changed to benefit the Gandhis.

He spent the first several minutes railing against the Gandhis before turning to his panelists. JDS national spokesperson Tanveer Ahmed accused the BJP of amplifying the discourse around the probe to distract from their inaction on China and Covid-19 crisis. Calling it the worst kind of witch hunt, he said that until a day or two ago, he thought the BJP was ruling this country, but it has become clear to him that actually, “It seems that Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi & Priyanka Gandhi are ‘haunting’ BJP”.

Shivshankar retorted, “You know this is not a banana republic…where there is no rule of procedure and you can just waltz in and take people’s properties…. There needs to be a procedure.” Got it.

And the puns continue: on #WillPilotFly, Republic TV‘s Arnab Goswami sought to understand Sachin Pilot’s political stance and future. However, the discussion pivoted to the Gandhis, again, and Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi — with Goswami launching another scathing attack on her. This forced Congress leader Kirip Chaliha to rise to her defense: “This lady never wanted to come to politics. She never wanted to be part of the Congress party.”

Goswami, never one to let slide a chance to attack Gandhi’s Italian roots, lashed out with, “Now don’t get your brownie points with Sonia Maino on my programme.” A faithful Chaliha began to explain the formation of the Congress after the freedom movement, but Goswami shouted, “Don’t teach Congress party history, I know it better than you!”

On Zee News, anchor Sudhir Chaudhary seemed to be coming out in support of Ashok Gehlot—that makes for a change: “Today in an indirect attack on Sachin Pilot, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said that just wearing good clothes and speaking good English is not enough. What is more important is hard work and determination.” And because you can reduce everything to a cricket analogy in this country, he added, “We will see today if the reign of test matches is over in politics, and whether the rule of 20-20 in cricket has arrived.”

He went to explain the analogy — “Today’s generation of politicians play 20-20 cricket and want everything immediately, while the old guard plays test cricket and are patient and bank on experience.”

Refreshingly, India Today‘s Rajdeep Sardesai focused on the coronavirus and the crisis in Bihar. He grilled JDU leader Dr Ajay Alok on the state’s poor Covid management and alleged fudging of numbers. The channel played a shocking clip from Patna’s Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH) that showed abandoned dead bodies in the hospital that suggested it may be a Covid hotspot. Making no attempt to hide his indignation, Sardesai sarcastically said, “Presumably, Dr Ajay Alok, you will tell me these are isolated cases… exaggerated cases.”

The doctor said action had been taken in this case, but ended up deflecting the point — “These things used to happen in Mumbai hospitals where similar problems pop up.”

NDTV India‘s Ravish Kumar remains concerned with Anand Teltumbde. First, Kumar provided a case history of the Bhima Koregaon issue. Then he came to his main point: “During the Covid-19 pandemic, when instructions have been given to release inmates, that was when Professor Anand was arrested.” He said it was not just about Teltumbde, but also Dr Kafeel Khan, poet Varavara Rao and activist Sudha Bhardwaj.

He added, “The media has been telling you recently that Sachin Pilot became an MP at 26 and a central minister at 35. However, does the media ever tell anyone how long it takes to become a professor and write 30 books?”


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