New Delhi: Prime time debates juggled between journalist Priya Ramani’s acquittal in the defamation case by former Union minister M.J. Akbar after she accused him of sexual misconduct, and how the farmers’ protests may have BJP worried about its electoral advantage in northern states.
On Times Now, anchor Padmaja Joshi discussed Ramani’s acquittal. “This has implications for our future, for each working woman,” Joshi said in her opening statement.
She asked if Ramani would pursue a criminal case against Akbar following the judgment.
Author Shutapa Paul replied, “Priya has earlier today said the whole #MeToo movement was never about prosecution. It was more about airing your grievances.”
“When we have survivors of sexual assault speaking up, we have to listen very closely to them,” reminded advocate Karuna Nundy. She added that whether or not a case is pursued, it is up to the survivor.
Joshi asked journalist Kanika Gahlaut, who has also alleged sexual misconduct by Akbar, what she thought Akbar’s reaction would have been to the judgment.
“I think he must be having his daily whiskey, for sure!” said Gahlaut, tongue-in-cheek.
NewsX‘s Megha Sharma discussed BJP’s Jat outreach programme in which party leaders from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan were asked to dispel “misconceptions” about the farm laws to the community.
This BJP plan is in view of the forthcoming state elections in Uttar Pradesh and to influence the Jat community that dominates approximately 40 Lok Sabha seats there, explained Sharma.
Journalist Priya Sahgal said the BJP may have realised it has “bitten off more than it can chew”. She added: “They basically do need to do something to put this agitation to an end. So far, we’ve been told (they will wait), until it rains, until the farmers have to go back for their crops. But perhaps the fact that they may have an electoral disadvantage is something that may make them do something sooner…”
Congress spokesperson Aman Pawar said, “The BJP has been trying to dislodge this protest earlier, on communal lines, then on regional lines and now on the basis of community divide. Though I am a Jat myself, this is a protest of 36 communities together, it is a protest of brotherhood.”
Mirror Now‘s Tanvi Shukla also discussed Ramani’s acquittal. “At one point, there were at least a dozen women who found the courage and inspiration in the likes of Priya Ramani to speak up, to come forward and share their horror and ordeal,” she said.
“This is a phenomenal victory for all the women… For two and a half years, Priya has been facing this completely baseless, ridiculous criminal case,” said Shutapa Paul who was a panelist here too.
Shukla asked whether the social stigma surrounding sexual harassment cases “gives impetus to the argument that there cannot be a timeline and deadline to when you speak up?”
Supreme Court advocate Mihira Sood said timelines matter more in criminal cases and less when a woman is speaking out on social media. “It’s a very unprecedented kind of movement — the #MeToo movement – and it’s not as if the law exactly envisaged how it was going to deal with it,” she added.
NDTV India: On ‘Khabron ki Khabar’, the topic of discussion was “Congress ki bumper phasal, BJP ka sookha“(Congress has a bumper crop, while BJP gets a dry one) pointing to the results of the municipal elections in Punjab where Congress won six out of seven municipal districts.
Anchor Sanket Upadhyay asked the BJP’s Prakash Chand Sharma, “Prakash ji, yeh toh supra saaf ho gaya?”
To which, the BJP leader replied: “Why are you smiling so much, what sadness are you hiding?” He added that even without the Akali Dal (their former alliance partner) which had split due to the farm laws, the BJP had performed well in some areas such as Pathankot. “BJP kaam karti hai niti aur nishtha pe (the BJP works on policy and loyalty).”
Congress leader Charan Singh Sapra said the country was seeing that their (BJP’s) ego was becoming their “ahankar” (arrogance). He added that the verdict in Punjab was that the Narendra Modi government was “anti-poor, anti-farmer and anti-labourers”.
On India TV, anchor Rajat Sharma had an “exclusive” on how former chief ministers like Omar Abdullah had lied. Sharma explained that on 14 February, Abdullah, the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, tweeted that he and the rest of his family were under house arrest. The Srinagar Police replied to his tweet that VIP movement had been restricted due to the second anniversary of the Pulwama attack.
Abdullah then asked them for an official, written communication regarding the same. The Srinagar police tweeted the letter from 13 February saying no convoy movement would be allowed.
Sharma said, “The timespan of a lie is not very long, the truth comes out very quickly…. the same happened with Omar, his lie came out.”
Sharma, later, showed a video of Abdullah allegedly skiing, a day after he had claimed he was under house arrest.