New Delhi: What did prime time debate on Sunday? One guess… the India-China standoff, of course. A few English news channels looked at the custodial deaths in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi but the focus was on the border tensions.
The coronavirus pandemic took a backseat, once again, although it did receive a mention on NewsX, when a guest said China was instigating ‘World War III’.
And here is something you rarely see on prime time — more agreement and less debate. On NewsX, the discussion concerned PM Modi’s firm response to China in his monthly radio programme ‘Mann ki Baat’ Sunday and the Opposition’s attacks on the government.
Anchor Vineet Malhotra asked, “How is it even justifiable for any party to pick faults in the way the government is dealing with China?” to which all panel members responded by duly criticising the Opposition for “hurting national interests”.
Later, Professor M.D. Nalapat brought up US-China tensions and said the Covid-19 crisis is “akin to World War III”.
He added, “Let’s not talk only of India, Ladakh or LAC. Let’s talk about the entire Indo-Pacific that is being threatened..by China.”
War was on everyone’s mind. Anchor Nishant Chaturvedi on TV9 Bharatvarsh, too, predicted a World War due to tensions between US and China. ‘Chor chori se jaaye, hera pheri se na jaaye’, declared Chaturvedi. ‘Jinping se America lega badla, World War III tay’, the headline flashed on screen.
The channel claimed that the possibility of war between the two countries is because the ‘Chinese virus’ had claimed many lives in the US. “Beijing blocked…Jinping shocked,” added Chaturvedi.
On India Today, anchor Rahul Kanwal asked, “What’s driving China’s aggression and what’s the best way for India to counter it?”
Jeff M. Smith, Research Fellow, South Asia-Heritage Foundation, also fingered the Chinese leadership: “The wolf warriors now working Chinese foreign policy are simply throwing decades of more cautious diplomacy to the wind… to display strength at home.”
When Kanwal asked if India is ready for “escalation and conflict”, ORF’s Sushant Sareen said, “It’s better to… get a bloody nose and give the other guy a bloody nose” since that’s “a better option than to lay over and play dead”. Not sure if that answered Kanwal’s question.
Zee News tried to connect the dots on the border clash at the Galwan Valley by excavating the past — nine months ago to be exact. “The conspiracy started in Pangong in September 2019”, anchor Vishal Kalra said as he suggested a connection between the Galwan Valley clash and the revocation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.
BJP’s K.K. Sharma patted himself on the back by saying that China has been flustered ever since the BJP government came to power. “As we revoked Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and are now planning to claim PoK, China is afraid that now it will lose Aksai Chin”.
PDP spokesperson Mohit Bhan was in a less conciliatory mood. He said the government did not care about the external consequences of removing Article 370 and “now we have made China a third stakeholder.”
Aaj Tak discussed PM Modi’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ address. “India knows how to maintain friendship but it can also look someone in the eye and retaliate”, he had declared.
Congress spokesperson Rajeev Tyagi said the PM’s comments on China are like a fuse bomb that cannot explode but only makes a lot of noise. He did not even take China’s name or mention our martyrs, said Tyagi.
BJP’s Sambit Patra countered, “They (Opposition) only want to attack PM Modi, they do not care about China or our martyrs. They start attacking the country while attacking PM Modi”.
Times Now’s Athar Khan debated the Thoothukudi custodial deaths in Tamil Nadu. Two men, a father and a son, were allegedly tortured to death by the Tamil Nadu Police for keeping their shop open past the curfew.
Khan brought radio jockey Suchitra on to his show, who had brought the case to national attention through her videos on social media.
When Khan asked if there was any “caste rivalry at the heart of this”, Suchitra vehemently disagreed. “I’d like to immediately quash this caste angle,” she said, arguing that “certain vested interests” are trying to push that narrative, which “just dilutes the case further”.