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Rajat on Modi’s ‘teekha’ comment, laughing contest in Times Now & Goswami smells a rat

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

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New Delhi: With the campaign for the Delhi assembly election ending Thursday, television news was dominated by the campaign and Shaheen Bagh. Only it wasn’t: prime time debates did dwell upon the upcoming Delhi polls but the Prime Minister’s speeches in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha dominated screen time. Some debates had a sly mention of Prime Minister Modi calling Congress’ Rahul Gandhi a “tubelight” in his Lok Sabha speech, much to the merriment of the MPs present.

ABP News’ anchor Isar Khan in her show titled ‘Samvidhaan ki shapath’ explained that the campaign and issues in the Delhi elections had changed majorly: what started as a debate on education and water has now turned into fights and mudslinging on Shaheen Bagh and hyper-nationalism — once again.

Khan concluded with an insightful and inventive question, “Bijli pani se bhatke, Shaheen Bagh par atke?” (Distracted from water and electricity, stuck on Shaheen Bagh?).

India TV’s 9 pm anchor Rajat Sharma did a very poor job of hiding his delight at PM Modi’s reference to Rahul Gandhi as a “tubelight”. Sharma said, “Modi rebuked so well that opponents didn’t have anything to say. He answered each question”. He added that Modi’s “teekha comment” couldn’t stop the Congress leaders from laughing as well.

Anchor Ravish Kumar at NDTV India, in a rather subdued and sarcastic manner asked: “People sitting in protest in a mere mohallah(locality) can’t possibly pose the same threat to India as the Mughals”— this was in reference to the Lok Sabha comments made by BJP MP Tejasvi Surya who alleged that India was in danger of repeating history.

Recounting BJP’s attempts at failed sting operations in Shaheen Bagh, Kumar said, “These stings didn’t achieve anything but only exposed the kind of thinking which is sowing the seeds of hatred under the garb of reporting.”

Aaj Tak’s Anjana Om Kashyap reminded her viewers that she also has a good turn of phrase. In a veiled reference to Modi’s “tubelight” comment, Kashyap said, “Modi ki kahin par nigahein, kahin par nishana”. Making light of Modi’s comment on how he would strengthen his back using ‘Surya Namaskar’ to withstand the attacks on him that Rahul Gandhi had mentioned in a rally speech, Kashyap chuckled, “Rahul dandavaar, Modi ka ‘Surya Namaskaar’”.

On NDTV 24×7’s `Reality Check’, anchor Sreenivasan Jain had done a lot of homework: he compared the hate speeches made in the first term of the Modi government to the current term and concluded that in the past few months hate speech has increased by an astonishing and baffling (well, not so baffling) 900 per cent.

Roping in Vivek Raddy, BJP, Jain commented — “There’s no sign of stopping? Are there no consequences for any of these leaders?” To which, Reddy conveniently and unsurprisingly chanted the tukde tukde mantra, avoiding any real debate.

At Times Now, Padmaja Joshi tried her best to moderate a debate between Shazia Ilmi, BJP spokesperson and Ajoy Kumar, AAP spokesperson. Kumar found Ilmi nothing short of hysterical, so he kept giggling. Ilmi said, “PM Modi said that Kejriwal is not allowing benefits… he is depriving people of the Ayushman Yojana.” Kumar’s laughter at this comment was uncontrollable and Ilmi was visibly upset. From a shouting match, the debate turned into a laughter match with Ilmi claiming, “I can laugh louder”.

India Today asked at this point, the Shaheen Bagh question. Anchor Gaurav Sawant’s question was slanted: “Is the Opposition fuelling the fire on Shaheen Bagh protests?” This took off from news earlier flashed across TV news that the Enforcement Directorate had reportedly found Congress and AAP were funding Shaheen Bagh, perhaps through the Muslim organisation Popular Front of India.

Ashutosh, political analyst, used the opportunity to compare PM Modi to Hitler and BJP to the Nazi party, a comparison that has been done and dusted, surely.

However, the award for creativity goes to Republic’s anchor Arnab Goswami. He declared, “Pakistan PM Imran Khan has declared his hatred for Hindus to such an extent that he wants them to be attacked and kicked repeatedly.”

Goswami used this debate as an opportunity to destroy any opposing viewpoint. He told Omar Altaf, Pakistani journalist, “Your argument has the intellectual depth of a rat.”

The debate was also punctuated with the sound of shrieks and howls from Altaf Hussain, the founder of Pakistani political party MQM. Even though no one asked him, Hussain said, “Pakistan was my country which forced me to leave.”

No comment.

With inputs from Shailaja Bajpai

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