New Delhi: Two days to go till Delhi votes in the 2020 assembly election and news channels went berserk debating the pros and cons.
ABP News’ Rubika Liyaquat wondered why Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to Parliament and announced the Ram Mandir trust, three whole months after the Supreme Court’s Ayodhya judgment — instead of going to Lucknow for the Defence Expo, as was planned (he did go subsequently). Was it for the Delhi elections?
On NDTV India, anchor Sanket Upadhaya called Modi’s announcement a “masterstroke” but asked if it was enough to win Delhi’s election.
BJP member and former MCD mayor Aarti Mehra denied any political calculation behind the move and said that in India there was an election all the time. “Bhagwaan Ram sabhke hain” (Lord Ram belongs to everyone), she remarked.
Surprisingly, AAP’s Jasmine Shah seemed to agree that the timing was not a political gambit. He echoed Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who had said setting up of the trust was a “shubh kaam” (auspicious work).
On CNN News 18’s ‘Viewpoint’, journalist Bhupendra Chaubey went to gauge voter sentiment in BJP’s most reviled location– Delhi’s Khan Market. He said despite its infamy, the “sheer diversity” of people one can find there offers a “good cross-section of public opinion”. He asked shoppers and shopkeepers whether the incidents of shootings, protests, actually impacted voter choices?
Mr. Goyal, who runs a Bombay Dyeing franchise, said that people have pretty much made up their minds, but on the recent Ram Mandir trust announcement, admitted that “kuch na kuch toh impact padhta hain” (some impact does happen).
An owner of a chemist shop, on the other hand, said that they would vote for “the work done”. Rahul Verma, a CPR fellow, however, pointed out that a substantial number of voters only make up their minds 48 hours before polling, while policy analyst Ritika said that the games between AAP and BJP reminded her of the US presidential elections when Hillary Clinton’s emails were discussed at the last moment, and actually affected the results.
Republic Bharat did a similar on-the-ground survey, this one in Delhi’s Krishna Nagar. One man said he was sure the Jamia shooter was linked with AAP, and that the BJP had no role in the matter, while the crowd, enthusiastically, yelled “Aayega toh Modi, aayega toh Modi” (Modi will come). The anchor smugly said, “Whatever excuses the CM makes, Delhi’s voters are intelligent and are watching closely.”
On Times Now, Rahul Shivshankar discussed South Indian superstar and politician Rajnikanth backing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), and “slammed” Lutyens Delhi for “peddling the narrative of fear” by suggesting that Muslims would be negatively affected.
Advocate S. Balan dismissed Rajnikanth’s views as mere “parroting” of the RSS. He then gave the actor some homework, telling him to read Article 14,15,16,17, 25 and 245 of the Indian Constitution. “He should know what CAA means, and he should read the amendment,” he advised, adding that Rajnikanth was Modi’s “agent”.
Shivshankar scoffed and said that by that logic even actor Deepika Padukone was “spoonfed” (for her visit to JNU), and everyone is spoon-fed by someone or the other.
On India Today’s ‘Campus Faceoff Debate’ at Shri Ram College of Commerce in Delhi University, Congress’ Supriya Shrinate delivered a scathing tirade against the central government’s Union Budget, questioning the credibility of its data and the legitimacy of its arithmetic: why had the Modi government suppressed the NSSO report on unemployment data, why was the NCRB withheld for three years?
AAP’s Jasmine Shah, who made an appearance here too, said that the BJP had a “complete aversion” to good quality data. “We can send ‘Chandrayaan’, ‘Mangalyaan’ to space, but we can’t get good data on unemployment?” he asked the audience of commerce students, who burst into applause.
In defense, BJP IT head Amit Malviya, who routinely criticises Sardesai but is still invited back, rattled off figures and statistics to defend the economy, to which host Rajdeep Sardesai said, “Sir, I’ve asked you for data — you’ve gone into statistical figures”.
Malviya insisted that India’s economy was “robust”. Sardesai asked the audience how many of them believed India was in a slowdown. Surprise, surprise — each and every hand went up.
(With inputs from Shailaja Bajpai)