#PrimetimeWatch: Channels Nearly Miss Fani and Another EC ‘Clean Chit’ to Modi

A daily round-up of trends and patterns on news television.

New Delhi: Cyclone Fani made landfall in Odisha on Friday with a wind speed of over 200 km per hour. It left behind a trail of destruction and killed at least eight people.

The Election Commission gave its fourth clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his ‘majority-minority’ speech in Nanded where he targeted Congress president Rahul Gandhi over his decision to contest from Wayanad besides Amethi.

Also read: EC Hands out Fourth ‘Clean Chit’ to Modi, but Uploads No Details on Website

Both these stories did not make any splash on prime time news.

So, what did the channels report and how?

English channels

India Today TV

Anchor Rajdeep Sardesai went around the Capital city to find out “Who’s winning the battle for Delhi”. Apart from speaking to the citizens on the street, he met Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader, Arvind Kejriwal, former CM and Delhi Congress president Sheila Dikshit, and Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari.

The programme had headlines like “Divided opposition: Advantage BJP?” and “Kejriwal: Congress called off talks” to show what may shape Delhi poll results.

Sardesai asked Kejriwal why the alliance between AAP and Congress did not materialise. Kejriwal replied, “We tried out best for alliance on 33 seats in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi and Goa. They said Punjab and Goa would not be possible. Then Ghulam Nabi Azad called Sanjay Singh to his home – it was decided how many seats we would fight in Delhi, Haryana and Chandigarh. There was to be a joint press conference the next day.”

But the following day, Kejriwal said the Congress leaders stopped taking their calls. “They then put a new condition which too was agreed, but they still called it off.”

Also read: The Delhi Voter’s Conundrum

On Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeting that a 3-4 adjustment in favour of AAP was proposed, Kejriwal asked if such decisions are taken on Twitter. “Three or four seats were not important, what was important was to keep Modi-Shah out. For me, country is important.”

Sardesai also asked Dikshit, who is contesting opposite Tiwari in North East Delhi, about the alliance and she confessed that she was “against a tie-up with AAP”. “Absolutely, I did not want to ally with a small little party, a non-starter”.

“But,” Sardesai asked, “it defeated, smashed you?”

“So what? We smashed others for 15 years,” she answered back. Dikshit also denied that a split in the anti-BJP vote would give advantage to the saffron party or that there was a Modi wave.

Tiwari told Sardesai that having been in the party now for five years, he was finding it easier now. “Gradually you win the confidence of the people – last time I won on Modi’s name, this time I am sure of winning as his soldier,” said the North East Delhi MP. He said, “the larger goal is who will be PM”. As for Dikshit, he said, her contesting from the seat has only made the contest “interesting”.


The channel brought the “Spotlight” on another interesting contest – the fight in Lucknow. The BJP national president Rajnath Singh is pitted against Shatrughan Sinha’s wife and actor Poonam Sinha of the SP-BSP-RLD alliance and spiritual guru Acharya Pramod Krishnam ‘Babaji’ of the Congress.

Reporting the battle from the “food capital”, the correspondent first went around the city asking people for their views. While Azhar bhai of an 80-year-old pan shop said Rajnath Singh, who won by a record margin of 2.72 lakh votes in 2014, has ensured a lot of development and would retain the seat, a Muslim woman said: “he is okay, but we did not find any improvement under Modi.”

A headline said, “BJP hasn’t lost Lucknow seat since 1991”. The report said Singh’s family, led by his son Pankaj Singh, was doing most of the campaigning in the constituency, which was represented by Atal Bihari Vajpayee for 18 years.

For his part, Rajnath Singh said he had “no difficulty because of the alliance”. With the constituency having nearly 25% Muslims, he cautioned others to “take care of this city’s ‘tehzeeb’ and culture. Lucknow is different from other cities, here people believe in ‘bhaichara’ (brotherhood).”

Also read: Elections 2019 | All You Need to Know About Uttar Pradesh

Sinha said she was fighting to ensure that India remained a democracy and did not become a “tanashahi” (dictatorship). “I am very much at home. I also do not consider myself an outsider. No one is an outsider in India – we can go wherever we want.”

Krishnam, who contested from Sambhal in 2014 but lost, denied that he was a weak candidate. “When Rajnath Singh first fought an assembly election he lost badly. Kalyan Singh was the CM then. So no one is weak or strong in a democracy, it is all about who people shower their love on.”

The spiritual guru said he believes the BJP would lose. “In 2014 there was ‘aitbaar’ (faith) on Modi, in 2019 that ‘aitbaar’ is over – he has not fulfilled any of the promises.”

Times Now

Channel editor Navika Kumar interviewed the union minister and Congress candidate from Amethi, Smriti Irani. A headline read: “Why is Smriti ‘nosey’ about Priyanka?”

Irani accused the Congress of making personal attacks on her. “Please ask Ms Vadra if a certain Mr Poonawala, propped by her party, called me ‘naachnay wali’ or not?”

Likewise, she accused Priyanka Gandhi of using children to abuse Modi. She accused Gandhi of taking making the children use the filthiest of words – with reference to mothers and sisters – for abusing Modi. “This election has taken the ‘naqab‘ (mask) off her face.”

She also accused MP Rahul Gandhi and the Congress of deliberately keeping the people of Amethi deprived. In the garb of secularism and tolerance see what they have done to the people here. There was a major fire and no one from the family visited the villagers, I visited them.”

Kumar asked, “So you are saying your model of development has changed people’s lives?” Irani replied “at least I and my PM are working on development. As many as 499 units had shut down when Congress was in power. What did they do?”

On why Rahul was being attacked for contesting from Wayanad too, Irani said it was because he has allied with the same (Indian Union) Muslim League which was responsible for India’s partition. “It is not the same as other ordinary Muslims, who love India.”

Republic TV

On a day when Modi accused Congress of betraying farmers on the issue of loan waivers, the channel also ran #OperationKarzMaafi. With headlines like “Karz maafi investigation exposes Cong” and “Biggest expose on the biggest promise”, it took up the issue of the Congress allegedly not fulfilling its promise of waiving loans of up to Rs 2 lakh in the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh, which it won recently.

BJP spokesperson Shazia Ilmi said the Congress promises that “amounts less than Rs 2 lakh would be waived’ but that was not done.

A panellist defending the Congress said the move was aimed at ameliorating the sufferings of the farmers. He recalled how in the previous BJP government, thousands of farmers had committed suicide.

Anchor Arnab Goswami kept himself busy shouting: “You are lying to the citizens – you should pay the money. Why did you lie, why did you not pay the money in 10 days? They have been caught red-handed today.”

Hindi channels

NDTV India

Anchor Ravish Kumar interviewed noted film writer and lyricist Javed Akhtar who recently said in response to Shiv Sena’s demand that if ‘burqa’ is to be banned then ‘ghunghat’ (veil) should be banned too. He was also quoted as saying that he does not like Modi or Amit Shah.

Talking to Kumar, Akhtar said, “this entire ‘mulk’ (country) and society is in fear – this is with all communities. All those who do not agree with Modi-Shah are in fear.”

He said “the fact is people are fearful of everything – they can’t speak openly on phone – afraid it is being tapped. Emergency saw such ‘darr, sannata, chuppi’ (fear and silence). Then too people did not say Emergency is bad – many in fact appreciated it, saying trains are running on time and so on. But when elections happened, they voted without fear and pulled the government down. We will see that in these elections too.”

Also read: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail

ABP News

The channel had a short story on “Amit Shah attacks Cong in Lucknow”. It showed the BJP president saying, “Atal ji said the way to Delhi passes through Lucknow. I also repeated that in 2014. This time there is a ‘gathbandhan’ (alliance) and still, when journalists asked what would happen, I repeated that the way to Delhi will again be through Lucknow. BJP will win 73-74 seats in UP.”

Zee News

The channel analysed how global warming was causing more storms and cyclones. “Manavta par bhari padega dharti ka bukhar” (Earth’s fever will cause humanity dear) was how a headline described the situation.

“In 150 years,” anchor Sudhir Chaudhary said in his report, “Delhi’s temperate has increased by 1 degree Celsius on average, Mumbai’s by 0.7 degree, and of Chennai by 0.6 degree”. He said, “with forests, that absorb carbon dioxide, being cut, the levels of the gas are highest in 8 lakh years and this is one of the reasons for global warming”.

In India, research by IID Madras and IIT Bombay has revealed that the Indian Ocean is heating at a rapid pace leading to warming in the region and weather changes.

As for Fani, it said it is only the fifth cyclone in 150 years that has struck in May, as usually such cyclones are formed around October.