New Delhi: Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg’s tweet in support of the farmers’ protest had an even greater impact on prime time television than on the government. Her tweet on the “toolkit” and the subsequent FIR by Delhi Police dominated almost all TV debates. ABP News’ headline said it all — ‘Greta’s ‘Great Hate’ Story towards India’.
Times Now’s Rahul Shivshankar said Thunberg was “no crusader for the kisans fighting out of the goodness of her heart”. He added that she has been “brainwashed or perhaps, paid.”
He accused Thunberg, Rihanna and Khalifa of “mouthing the words put together by Poetic Justice Foundation which is run by Khalistanis”.
Political analyst Sujata Paul was somewhat puzzled: “Why is the Government of India reacting to these people if they don’t really matter?” she asked.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra found a way to introduce the Congress into the debate — its leader Rahul Gandhi was in “cahoots” with the ‘toolkit’ to “malign the image of our country”, he claimed.
T.V. Mohandas Pai, chairman of Aarin Capital, concurred, “The opposition party has fallen victim to a global conspiracy led by big money to defame this country.”
On Aaj Tak, anchor Anjana Om Kashyap brought together Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait’s announcement of “chakka jam” on 6 February and Thunberg’s tweet. “Tikait has said that there will be chakka jam on Saturday from 12-3 pm and RJD’s Manoj Jha has said one tweet can’t weaken democracy,” observed Kashyap.
“You have filed an FIR against Greta, now what? You will arrest her and get her to Delhi?” Kashyap asked BJP’s Patra.
A smiling Patra began by sounding conciliatory: “In a democracy anyone can protest but without harming the law and order situation in the country. Hindustan has already suffered on 26 January”. Then he brought out the ‘tool kit’ — “This is the box of conspiracy”, he explained, holding up the papers.
“One person cannot create this conspiracy. It is just that Greta tweeted about this box of conspiracy,” Patra said, who then went on to explain the pointers in the ‘toolkit’, page by page.
News Nation‘s question of the hour for its viewers was — “No conspiracy can destroy India’s unity”: ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
“Do you know Greta Thunberg, Mia Khalifa or Rihanna? They have been writing more than is required on the farmers’ protest these days and spreading lies about India,” anchor Deepak Chaurasia said to BKU president Naresh Tikait.
“I don’t know them,” Tikait replied, to which Chaurasia asked — “Then why are they doing this?”
“Outsiders are defaming India using the kisan andolan,” the anchor informed Tikait, “They are speaking for us, in our matter.’’
But Tikait wasn’t having any of it: “There is nothing here about defaming India,” he said.
CNN-News18’s Zakka Jacob also inquired about the “plot to malign India’s name globally”. He said the ‘toolkit’ would amount to crimes like inciting people to commit a criminal act, disturbing public order and inciting mob violence in the activist’s own country — Sweden.
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera argued that if the ruling party had listened to concerns while the farm laws were being passed in Parliament, the farmers wouldn’t be protesting in the first place.
Filmmaker Ashoke Pandit claimed Thunberg was a school drop-out and “not intelligent enough to continue with her studies”. The 18-year-old Thunberg returned to school in August last year after taking a year off to campaign for climate change curbs.
Kisan Shakti Sangh’s Pushpendra Singh said there was no need for the government to react to the tweets of Rihanna or Thunberg and it has now created an issue for itself.
On Republic TV, anchor Deepti Sachdeva was in a boastful mood: “You’re looking at the biggest conspiracy this year that was unmasked first here on Republic.“
She pointedly asked Shiromani Akali Dal leader Maheshinder Singh Grewal, “Are you with the country or are you with these conspirators?”
Grewal, caustically, responded that the party didn’t require a “certificate” from Republic or anyone else regarding national unity.
Senior journalist Ashutosh Mishra also went on the attack: “What is more dangerous to the nation today is the BJP’s toolkit to bad-mouth farmers”.