New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released its manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections promising sops for farmers and a strong ‘nationalist approach’ in matters related to culture and security.
An opinion poll showed the NDA barely managing to cross the half-way mark, riding more on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘popularity’ than performance.
Here is a look at how the channels showed these stories and more.
India Today TV
Through headlines like “Rs 6,000 annual payment to all farmers” and “1 lakh rupee loan at per cent interest”, the channel took a look at the bouquet of promises.
It showed Modi speaking about “last mile delivery” and development being “one mission one direction”.
Anchor Rajdeep Sardesai said the manifesto has promised to make “India a developed country and third largest economy by 2047”.
A report within the programme spoke of how the Ram Temple issue, which has been a part of successive party manifestos, has been “relegated to page 38” this time.
The channel also showed Union finance minister Arun Jaitley saying the manifesto was “not prepared with a ‘tukde-tukde’ mindset or ivy league mindset, but with a strong nationalist vision”.
Another headline said, “Opposition calling it ‘jumla patra’ (paper of false promises)”. Sardesai said the opposition is asking the BJP “what about failed schemes like demonetisation, promise of 10 crore jobs”.
It showed Congress leader Ahmed Patel comparing it with Congress’s manifesto saying, “It is jhoot banam nyay (This is falsehood versus justice)”.
The channel also compared the manifestos of the two parties. BJP has promised more jobs in defence and pharma sectors, annulling Article 370 and Rs 6,000 per annum to farmers; Congress promised 22 lakh government jobs, no change to Article 370 and Rs 72,000 per annum under minimum income scheme.
During the discussion, Amit Malviya of BJP said the party manifesto has three distinct parts – empowerment, national security and ideological issues. “It will create opportunity for millions – Congress is only talking about doles which would put a huge pressure on the exchequer.”
Rajiv Gowda of the Congress said BJP’s was an “apology for a manifesto”. He said the party did not deliver on the promises of 2014. “It is entirely a case of announcements without delivery – the Ganga is dirtier than ever before, toilets constructed are not used, and bank accounts opened are not operated. BJP completely avoided discussing its track record – of failures in tackling black money, demonetisation and damage by GST.”
The channel ran the details of an opinion poll, Mandate 2019, conducted by it. It projected NDA winning 279 seats, UPA 149 and others 115. Headlines like “No absolute majority for BJP” and “Modi Sarkar will need crutches, India back to coalition politics” accompanied it.
Anchor Navika Kumar said BJP will need help from alliance partners to form a government. “So it is not on basis of last five years’ governance but Modi’s personal charisma that you will be winning these elections?” she asked Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Prasad replied that “There has been a drastic improvement on what you had shown earlier. Once the campaign hots up, I am sure BJP will get more than a majority on its own.” On the reasons, he said, “Modi is being considered as the most suitable leader who needs to be given a second term.”
On the other side, people do not know who the leader is. “When they look at the mahagathbandhan (grand alliance), they see ‘na niti, na niyat, na nirdesh’ (No policy, no intent, no direction).”
The channel also looked at how the BJP is largely depending on gains in the east to overcome losses in the heartland.
National spokesperson of Janata Dal (Secular), Tanveer Ahmed, said: “Indian voter is very mature. It will not believe their ‘jhoot’ (lies). On what basis are they winning this election – rhetoric?”
He insisted that the aspiration of the youth has failed and the nation is witnessing an agrarian crisis. “This is not an opinion poll, this is an opinion-making poll,” he charged.
With #ManifestoFor2022, the channel discussed the issue. It also ran several headlines like “Nationalist vs pro-tukde manifesto” and “Keeping India poor vs moving ahead” to show how it viewed the documents of BJP and Congress.
Anchor Arnab Goswami charged that a concerted lie was being spread that this BJP manifesto only talks about national security. He said the word “development” figures 93 times in it, “security” 44 times, “education”, “infrastructure” and “farmer” 41 times and “jobs” 14 times which showed the emphasis on other aspects as well.
A participant speaking for the opposition said: “the 2014 BJP manifesto should be taken as a benchmark for 2019 – what happened to the promises of two crore jobs, 15 lakh rupees in every account and hike in minimum support price for farmers?”
But Goswami said: “Your argument does not work.”
As part of “Countdown 2019: Andhra Pradesh”, channel’s founding editor Prannoy Roy and senior journalist Shekhar Gupta travelled to Vijaywada. They spoke about how the political rise of Pawan Kalyan, a hugely popular actor, has changed the equations.
In 2014, his Jana Sena was a party of the BJP-TDP alliance but it is contesting on its own this time. This has increased the headache for Telugu Desam Party’s Chandrababu Naidu as he also has to contend with the growing popularity of YSR Congress Party’s Jagan Mohan Reddy.
Headlines like “Frenzy among voters for Pawan Kalyan” and “Pawan Kalyan the next Kejriwal?” discussed his rise. The two journalists also discussed if Kalyan would be “King or kingmaker?”
Political commentator Dorab Sopariwala said Kalyan, who is the younger brother of thespian Chiranjeevi, will “Will help one of the two guys in becoming king.”
Roy and Gupta also took a round of a buzzing food street in Vijaywada where they asked people their opinion on the three leaders. Finally, Roy did a random voice vote and hand-count, which showed Kalyan to be the most popular in the area.
The channel reported the release of Rashtriya Janata Dal manifesto by Tejashvi Yadav in some detail. He was shown promising that the party would implement remaining recommendations of Mandal Commission and uphold the rights of minorities. He also spoke how it was committed to “reservation in jobs and promotions”.
“RJD ka ghoshna patra” (RJD’s manifesto), also showed Yadav speak about the party’s “focus on education and jobs to prevent migration from Bihar” and to providing “security for ‘pravasi’ Biharis”.
He also promised a caste-based census in 2020-21 and “reservation in higher judiciary and private sector”.
The channel looked at how BJP’s promise of Ram Mandir construction was being viewed.
It said the party has promised the temple “within provisions of Constitution”.
It also spoke to some saints in Ayodhya to get their sense. Ayodhya Sant Samaj mahant Kanhaiya Das said: “Apart from BJP, no one is talking about constructing the temple, so we cannot trust others.”
Mahant Paramhans too was shown saying that “apart from BJP, no one can construct it”.
The channel said, “BJP has mentioned Ram Mandir in every manifesto”.
The channel also noted the party’s stance on other religious issues. BJP, it said, has denounced the practice of triple talaq. It has also mentioned Sabarimala saying it would keep all aspects of its faith before Supreme Court and provide constitutional protection to it.
A Centre of Media Studies report highlights how this election is going to be the most expensive with between Rs 50,000-Rs 60,000 crore expected to be spent on it.
Anchor Sudhir Chaudhary said, “big rallies are considered benchmark of popularity”. Leaders, the headlines said, also spend huge sums on bribing voters, liquor and drugs to get votes.
With over Rs 400 crore in cash seized already, the programme noted that “India will leave behind US in election spend”.
It also spoke about increased spending by parties and candidates on social media. Chaudhary said “52,000 political ads have gone to Facebook and it earned Rs 10 crore. Of these, 1100 ads were of BJP and 410 of Congress”.