New Delhi: The coronavirus pandemic managed to dislodge domestic politics from reigning over prime time although Times Now, Republic TV NDTv and other channels did pick up the Rajya Sabha debate on the Delhi riots and newly appointed BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia’s rousing welcome by the party in Bhopal.
Anchors doled out information about coronavirus the best they could. ABP News’ Garima Singh in “Bin maanga gyaan” (the knowledge no one asked for) explained how a pandemic is different from an epidemic and its implications. “A pandemic is when an epidemic is spread across countries through contact,” she explained.
At Aaj Tak, anchor Anjana Om Kashyap claimed that Jyotiraditya Scindia got a “bhavya bhagwa swagat” (warm saffron welcome) when he reached Bhopal. Kashyap didn’t spare any details, “From the airport to the BJP office, Scindia was welcomed with posters, dhols and lots of garlands.”
She joked about how the ‘maharaj’ and Shivraj (former CM Shivraj Chouhan) were seated together — a not-so-veiled reference to Scindia’s royal lineage.
Taking a break from his ‘jihad’ on various varieties of jihad, Zee News anchor Sudhir Chaudhary decided to talk about the coronavirus outbreak. Unsurprisingly, he managed to make a matter of science suit his newsroom’s propaganda against other media organisations. “This episode is not to scare you from coronavirus, but to tell you how you can defeat the virus,” he claimed.
“We know how the entire media is trying to scare you about this. But we are different because jeet aap ki hogi (the victory shall be yours),” he added.
Meanwhile, NDTV India chose to ignore coronavirus to highlight Congress leader Rahul Gandhi attacking the government on its inadequate response to tackling the coronavirus as well as unemployment.
India Today’s anchor Preeti Choudhary had a unique observation about the coronavirus: “This virus has spread across the world. It seems as though this virus does not discriminate against the poor or the rich,” she said.
She added, “In fact, coronavirus has a high profile case, one wherein celebrated actor Tom Hanks tested positive for it.” So it’s a rich man’s disease?
The normally staid atmosphere at NDTV 24×7 debates became surcharged and most engaging Thursday. Referring to Home Minister Amit Shah’s speech in the Rajya Sabha, anchor Sreenivasan Jain said, “As the head of the Delhi Police, this was a chance for him (Shah) to give an explanation of what exactly happened. How did Delhi burn for so many days…”
In a pointed question to T.R. Kakkar, ex-Delhi Police commissioner, Jain asked, “Do you think that this was an adequate defence to say that the police controlled the riots even though there are accounts that suggest that either the police were complicit or outnumbered?”
Kakkar replied, “I think it has become a habit with most of us to pick holes in the police’s working.”
“The violence that took place in Northeast Delhi was where the majority stands to be the minority in the community,” he added.
Other panel members were revolted by this argument and protested loudly. Jain, rather superciliously, expressed his disappointment with Kakkar’s “factually incorrect and deeply provocative” statement.
At Times Now, anchor Navika Kumar also played politics over the riots, “Was the Congress pulling wool over the Muslims eyes?” This was in reference to senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal’s statement in the Rajya Sabya that CAA would not deprive anyone of citizenship. Sibal did express his concern over the NPR.
Apropos nothing, Anand Ranganathan, scientist and molecular biologist said, “I am telling you that Shashi Tharoor and Kapil Sibal combo should be marketed as shampoo and conditioner.”
Ranganathan then explained his simile — “They are head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to hypocrisy.”
Trust, Republic TV’s anchor Arnab Goswami to bring different problems to the table. In light of the coronavirus outbreak, Goswami wondered out loud if it was safe for the IPL (Indian Premier League) cricket tournament to go ahead as per schedule.
“I understand there is a lot of money riding on IPL. But when there is a pandemic and the government is on a war footing, should our BCCI be given the option to decide? How can the BCCI decide? Either the government decides or the people,” he pronounced, sounding most reasonable.
Goswami then addressed IPL fans, “Look at the larger risks”.
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