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TOP of the class | The Indian Express

TOP of the class | The Indian Express

TOP of the class

In Parliament and outside, the PM remains the consummate campaigner

Written by Shailaja Bajpai | Published: February 8, 2018 12:22 am
prime minsiter narendra modi attacks Congress in Parliament
Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. (PTI Photo/TV Grab)

On Wednesday, the prime minister unleashed his WMDs (words of mocking disdain) for those who sat across the aisle. In his Lok Sabha speech, he shook a finger at them, in a fierce WAG (War Against Gandhis); the WAR (wail against Rahul) he left to like-minded news channels, but we will return to that later.
Sorry but have been hugely inspired by the PM’s “TOP” and the Congress’s “POT”, although nowhere near as good.
As always, the PM put in a customary consummate (campaign) performance (LSTV), full of stinging rebukes for the Congress and figures of speech, running into crores, to praise his government’s performance. In this respect, he quite outshone his party president. On Monday, we heard Amit Shah make his Rajya Sabha debut. He was most gracious, throwing in a pakoda and chai; he was fluent and showed a decided flair for parliamentary language. However, he has a way to go before he catches up with the PM in sound and fury, and dramatic dialogues. To mix an acronym, with little French, and produce a pun, the PM’s bon mot (motion of thanks) left the Treasury bench sitters wreathed in smiles.
Ghulam Nabi Azad had his moment in the House — he topped Shah by appearing in a white topi. Speaking in the Rajya Sabha after Shah, the Congress leader put the government on the mat — or in this case, the red carpet of the RS — and we may have seen some BJP MPs blush had we but seen them. However, both LSTV and RSTV concentrate on the speaker of the speech, the speaker of the Lok Sabha or the chairman of the Rajya Sabha, largely ignoring reactions from the other side while speeches are in progress: For instance, we did not see the Opposition yelling “bandh karo, bandh karo” when the PM was in full flow.
Arun Jaitley did not ignore any of the questions put to him in a series of post-budget TV interviews. In fact, the finance minister was patience personified as he often had to give the same answers to the same questions put to him by different TV anchors. You needed to watch only one Q&A session, since there was little to choose between the questions or the answers on India TV, India Today, Times Now, Republic, ET Now — other than the effusiveness of the anchors.
While Rajat Sharma (India TV), Rahul Kanwal (India Today), to name two, restricted themselves to thanking the FM for appearing on the show and answering their questions, Arnab Goswami was most grateful for the budget: “I thank you Mr Jaitley for a pragmatic and popular budget” (Republic), and “Congratulations on a fantastic budget” (Open House, DD News); Navika Kumar was also appreciative: “Thank you for a very good budget… the viewers of Times Now congratulate you.”
Possibly the best interview was with Rahul Joshi (CNN News 18). It ticked all the economic and political questions of the day and then went the extra few minutes into asking Jaitley a few personal questions on his extra-curricular activities, his heroes, his passions, etc. Different.
A few other observations: Notice more questions are being asked of the government now, perhaps with impending elections. Rajdeep Sardesai asked if the “Modi govt policy” in Kashmir was “a failure” after more cross-border killings (India Today); Bhupendra Chaubey raised “serious questions” on the government’s “anti-corruption crackdown” plank when there was a “bloodbath” in Kashmir and at the Sensex (CNN News 18).
The BJP may or may not be calling early general elections but ABP and NDTV-I are taking no chances: They have launched their election campaigns with “2019” (ABP) and “Ranneeti” (NDTV India).
And on NDTV 24×7 on Monday, an anchor spoke of the killing of Ankit “by Muslim girlfriend’s family”, conscientiously adding that his father had asked his son’s death be not communalised. Huh?
To end, since everything seems to be going either over the TOP or to POT, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. So in acrimony of the moment, a few poor acronym-like jokes:
POT: put off the TV when you can’t bear the noise any longer; TOP: turn on politicians, especially those belonging to the Nehru-Gandhi family to boost viewership ratings like Times Now and Republic did over the weekend and every other day of the week; MODI: Modi dominates India, especially on television news, in particular DD News; AAP: All against Pakistan, led by India Today’s intrepid Gaurav Sawant, who was firing on all cylinders as he flew into Rajouri.
And lastly, CAG: Copying Arnab Goswami is something many anchors do in different languages. And, it is driving us MAD — to Misery, Anger and Depression.
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