A horrendous attack took place on a Muslim family in Gurugram on Holi. The family had earlier been told to “go to Pakistan”. The hoodlums assaulted even the women and children. Though the attack lasted nearly an hour, the police did not react on time.
Through the day, speculation was rife that Congress president Rahul Gandhi may contest from one more seat apart from Amethi. Later, footage emerged of Maharasthra unit chief Ashok Chavan expressing unhappiness with the way things were in the party.
A look at how the TV channels covered these stories:
The channel covered the attack on the Sajid family in Bhondsi village of Gurugram in some detail. It reported how the incident happened through a series of headlines. “Dabangon ka ek parivar par hamla (musclemen attack a family)”.
The report said that first members of two groups had clashed while playing cricket. Then two youth came on scooter and told the family members to “go to Pakistan”. The youth then left and later returned with a large number of armed locals. The family members were then beaten up.
The channel said “the entire attack was recorded on camera”. Later, one accused, identified as Mahesh, was arrested. All others were identified and a search was on to nab them. Sajid’s family, the report said, now want to sell the house and leave the village.
Aaj Tak’s story was more dramatic and it accused the police of not acting for a full hour while the attack on the Gurugram family was on.
“Gurugram mein gunday gasht par (Goons on the patrol in Gurugram)” and “Aurtain – bachchay kaamp rahen thay aur police mast thi (women-children were cowering in fear and the police was busy enjoying itself)” were two of the headlines which spoke about police indifference.
The channel also took the BJP government, led by Manohar Lal Khattar, to task saying: “Khattar sarkar ka iqbal phir say hawa mein” (Questions raised on Khattar government’s integrity).
The programme spoke about how when BJP raised the issue of beef, Khattar defended the ban saying those who consume beef should go to Pakistan.
The channel said the issue is not of just an assault but of that concept of “Bharat” – to protect which Mahatma Gandhi took bullets on his chest.
The channel gave its own spin to the ban imposed by the Centre on Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front. It equated it to the martyrdom of freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. It played Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message recalling the sacrifices of the three. And then it drew in the developments in Kashmir.
“Desh ki har maa ko Bhagat Singh ki chitthi padhni chahiye (Every mother should read Bhagat Singh’s letter)”. It also showed clips of JKLF leader Yasin Malik’s supporters raising “Hum kya chahtay, azaadi” slogans as police approach him.
The channel then ran headlines saying “Algavvadi netaon par Bhagat Singh wala hamla karna zaroori hai (It is essential to launch Bhagat Singh kind of assault on separatist leaders.” It also ran the clip of the Union home secretary announcing a ban on JKLF.
To maintain the integrity of the country, it is important to remember the words of Bhagat Singh, the channel said, as another headline scrolled on the screen: “Kashmir ko badlegi Shaheed Bhagat Singh ki soch.” The connection was hard to fathom.
The channel focussed largely on the politics of the day. It had a story on the BJP’s list and spoke about how tickets of four sitting MPs have been cut in Madhya Pradesh.
There was also a story on “popular dancer of Haryana” Sapna Chaudhary joining the Congress. “Hema Malini kay khilaf chunav ladengi Sapna (Sapna would contest against Hema Malini of BJP from Mathura)”, the channel said.
It also repeatedly advertised its Vyakti Vishesh programme that was to feature Narendra Modi with his image and audio clip in which he is heard saying: “Aapka yeh chowkidar poori tarah chaukanna hai (Your watchman is fully alert)”.
The channel reported the surfacing of an audio tape of Ashok Chavan in some detail.
“Ashok Chavan shows dissent” and “Cong neta doesn’t deny tape” were the headlines it ran alongside a hashtag #CongPollJolt. It also quoted Chavan through a series of headlines: “I am unable to make people understand”, “No one listens to me in the Congress”, “Not being able to satisfy all Congress workers”, and “I am also planning to resign from the party”.
During its Special Edition programme, a Congress spokesperson also said the remarks should not be seen as any rebellion. “Yesterday there were rumours that Jitin Prasada would leave the party and join BJP but he denied he was planning to do so.”
“Ashok Chavan in phone sting” ran the headline on the channel as it ran a disclaimer saying it “can’t vouch for audio authenticity”. However, it termed the episode “Congress Maha shocker” and said the sting exposed a “divide” within the party.
With a hashtag #CongOnBackfoot, it took the position that the party’s “two seat proposal for Rahul Gandhi” indicated that the party president was fearful of his electoral prospects in traditional family stronghold of Amethi.
“Is Amethi no longer a safe seat for Rahul?” and “Is Rahul fearing defeat in Congress bastion?” it wrote saying there was talk of his also contesting from Wayanad in Kerala.
The channel also termed recent developments in Congress as “complete mayhem” and wondered if the party was “imploding”.
The discussion featured Roopa Ganguly of the BJP, who insisted that a reason why Rahul Gandhi may feel insecure in Amethi is because of Smriti Irani’s continued focus there. Ganguly also raised the issue of BJP giving out a large number of Mudra loans to boost self-employment.
This was contested by Dinesh Varshney of the Communist Party of India who said the average size of Mudra loan was Rs 21,000 and so it was not enough to support employment. He also questioned “why did you block NSSO data and unemployment data if you have given jobs”.
The CPI leader claimed the country was witnessing its “highest unemployment in 45 years” during the Modi rule.
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In prime time, the channel showed Rahul Kanwal’s interview with “The Most Likeable’ Minister” Nitin Gadkari from Nagpur, where he is due to fight his second Lok Sabha election.
Gadkari claimed that the Ganga would be completely cleaned 2020. He also countered the Congress the charge on wasteful expenditure, saying: “We have only spent Rs 6,000 crore out of Rs 26,000 crores. By next March Ganga will be cleaned.”
The BJP leader said additional water will be released in the river during the lean period of March to May and that the government was “working on a project by which you can travel from Delhi to Bangladesh through a waterway”.
“We have sent the project to the finance minister for seeking World Bank [support] to connect Delhi to Allahabad by river and we are also cleaning the Yamuna,” he said.