#PrimetimeWatch: Channels Focus on Modi vs Gandhis and Digvijay Singh vs Pragya Thakur

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

New Delhi: Sensing that the NDA is falling short of a majority, 22 opposition parties initiated consultations on a future tie-up. Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu met Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday in this regard.

War of words between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Gandhi family continued with Modi accusing former PM Rajiv Gandhi of hosting his in-laws on INS Viraat. He also accused the Congress of abusing him repeatedly. Priyanka, during a Delhi roadshow, said Modi was an “outsider” in the city.

How did the media report these stories and more?

Hindi channels

Zee News

The channel discussed Modi’s attack on the opposition and Congress’s retort.

It said that during a rally in Kurukshetra, Modi – who earlier challenged the Congress to contest the last two phases on the issue of pride and honour of Rajiv Gandhi – spoke extensively how the opposition called him names.

“Today he answered those leaders who use objectionable language,” said anchor Sudhir Chaudhary, while not going into how the PM himself has used foul language on many occasions.

He added that “for 10 minutes out of his 35-minute speech in Kurukshetra, Modi spoke about those who abuse him”. While doing so, he said the abuses against him were coming out of  “prem ki dictionary” (dictionary of love). This was an obvious reference to Rahul, who in response to Modi calling Rajiv “Bhrashtachari No. 1”, had stated that he only had “love and hugs” for the PM.

Chaudhary also referred to BJP leader Prakash Javadekar’s statement saying “Modi ko ab tak 52 galiyan di gayeen” (Modi has been abused 52 times).

The report also mentioned Modi speaking in Delhi where he attacked the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) saying “nakam panthiyon” (the incapable) have sullied the image of the aam aadmi (common man). There was no reference though to AAP’s retort in which it accused the PM of spreading “jumla panthi” (false promise) culture.

However, Priyanka was shown on the channel challenging Modi during a road show earlier in the day. “Dilli ki ladki khuli chunauti de rahi hai” (Delhi’s daughter is giving an open challenge), she said, daring Modi to contest the last two phases on the issues of demonetisation, GST and women’s security.

NDTV India

In “Chunav India Ka” anchor Ravish Kumar met the chief of Kabir Math in Varanasi, Mahant Mahant Vivek Das, who spoke about how the great Sufi poet stood against “pakhand” (deception) in his times.

“Ek Banaras Kabir ka bhi hai” (One Varanasi belongs to Kabir too) ran the headline as recently the focus has been on Modi’s campaign and his rivals there.

Das spoke about how another poet, Ravidas, who is an icon for the backward classes, considered Kabir his guru. He spoke about how Rahul goes to Ravidas temple in pursuit of vote bank politics.

As for Kabir, he said, a real tribute to him would be to incorporate his teachings and philosophy in one’s life.

Kumar asked: “People think he was an atheist?” Das responded that “he stood against the evils of the society in his time and the domination of certain classes”. He noted that even modern day ‘kathakars’ (storytellers) like Murari Bapu recite Kabir’s dohas.

One which remains most relevant in these times, he said, was: “Bura jo dekhan main chala, buran a miliya koy, jo dil khoja apna, mujhsay buran a koy” (When I went out looking for the evil, I could not find one, when I looked within, there was none more evil than me).

Aaj Tak

The channel reported how the big fight between senior Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh and Malegaon blast accused, Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, took a complete saffron hue in Bhopal.

It said Singh took out a massive rally of sadhus to combat Thakur’s saffron attack. It also showed Singh speaking at a rally where he accused Modi of being a “zubaani thug” (one who cheats through language) by asking what happened to his promise of bringing back Rs 25 lakh crore in black money and putting Rs 15 lakh into every countryman’s account.

The channel said Singh had earlier also performed a yagna at Agar Malwa ‘siddh peeth’ (proven holy place) where legend has it that the Pandavas performed a yagna to defeat the Kauravas.

English channels

Times Now

With #AmitShahOnNewshour and headlines like “Brazen Hindutva in Bhopal?”, “Bhakt, bhagwa and babas” and “The Sadhvi controversy looms”, the channel showed the battle for Bhopal.

Anchor Navika Kumar travelled there and spoke to BJP president Amit Shah during his road show. She asked why Thakur was fielded despite there being serious charges under UAPA against her. Shah replied, “the conspiracy was rejected by two courts”.

In 2014, Kumar asked, it was the Modi wave. What is happening this time? “This time it is Modi tsunami, we will win by a big margin,” came the reply.

On his being called “Duryodhan” by Priyanka, Shah said “what she said is as per her understanding. Our election is on the right path – on development”.

The ‘sadhvi’ refused to take any questions from Kumar saying, “Right now I am before the people – will address them.”

India Today TV

The channel also put out a story on how “Digvijay put on a saffron show in Bhopal”. With headlines like “Sadhvi vs Sadhus”, “Digvijaya vs Sadhvi Pragya” and “Not a mini kumbh, but Digvijay’s sadhu yatra”, it showed the Congress leader fighting saffron with saffron.

The report stated that a day earlier, Singh held a havan with spiritual leader Namdev Tyagi alias “Computer baba”. He also spoke about how it was not right for BJP to field Thakur as “she was released from jail”.

The story also said that ‘Computer baba’ certified that Singh was a ‘real Hindu’ while Thakur was not, since she was a terror accused.

It also showed Thakur jumpstarting a motorcycle yatra saying this helps her “reach out to more people”.


With headlines like “Speedbreaker didi vs expiry babu” and “Mamata: PM Modi drenched in blood”, the channel discussed the battle of Bengal between CM Mamata Banerjee and PM Modi.

It also noted that “Mamata rally – did not attack Rahul at all” and asked, “Have Mamata and Rahul called a truce?”

Derek O’ Brien of the Trinamool Congress accused the BJP of communal politics in the state, saying a Ram Navami procession was taken out in which arms were openly brandished.

CPI(M) leader Nilotpal Basu claimed that “the media is projecting a bipolar contest, but it is not so on the ground.” He insisted that other parties were also in serious contention though there was a “conscious attempt to drown the other voices”.

On what may revive the other parties, Basu said, “There have been effects of demonetisation and industrial crisis, but the decline has been aggravated by policies of the state government.”

He also noted that during TMC rule, the RSS shakhas multiplied and for the first time communal conflagrations were seen.

Gorav Vallabh of Congress said there is desperation in the BJP and it has pressed the panic button fearing huge losses in other states.

He said its proclamations of ‘Mission’ 160 et cetera in the past meant little as it only won three seats in the assembly polls.

Razdan asked if it was not “political smartness” on part of the BJP that they see gains in West Bengal.

Senior journalist Nalini Singh said: “BJP has been working on it for over three years. There were complaints of inroads of saffronisation. The Ram Navami procession happened last year when weapons were displayed.”

Garga Chatterjee of the TMC said the BJP has been using big money to fight the polls but appears to have “misread Bengal”. “It is an external party – political, culturally and in other ways too.”

Republic TV

With #JustModi, the channel discussed the “race to insult Modi”. Through its headlines, it mentioned how during the day, “PM repeats the 31 abuses for opposition” and how “Opposition is on ‘gaali’ spree”.

The channel also discussed Modi’s charge that the Gandhi family used INS Viraat as a “personal taxi” in 1988 when then PM Rajiv Gandhi hosted his in-laws on the ship.

Anchor Arnab Goswami said the “navy warship was used as private property by Sonia’s Italian family – food was served and our soldiers were made to serve foreigners”.

When political analyst Sumanth C. Raman claimed that this was a 30-year-old story with no relevance to modern day politics, Goswani hit back: “The issue is of foreign nationals on an Indian warship. Did Rahul Gandhi’s extended Italian family get on the warship in 1988?”

Journalist Smita Prakash chipped in saying, “MoD never denied it. You don’t remember it, they justified it saying it would give a fillip to tourism in Lakshadweep.”

At this, Goswami concluded: “This reinforces Rajiv Gandhi’s image as ‘Bhrashtachari No. 1’”.