#PrimetimeWatch: Channels Discuss Modi’s Attack on Rajiv, Stay off Clean Chit to CJI

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

New Delhi: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ram Madhav said in an interview, “If we get 271 seats on our own we will be very happy.” As it appeared that the BJP may fall short of a full majority, Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao spoke to his Karnataka counterpart H.D. Kumaraswamy and announced his decision to meet DMK chief M.K. Stalin and Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan to bring the non-Congress, non-BJP parties together following the elections.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi followed up on his “Bhrashtachaari No. 1” comment against Rajiv Gandhi by asking if the Congress had the courage to make his Bofors deal an issue in the remaining two phases of Lok Sabha polls. Congress moved the Election Commission against the prime minister’s “derogatory attack”.

A three-judge panel of Supreme Court dismissed a former woman employee’s sexual harassment complaint against Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. The complainant said her “worst fears have come true”.

How did the media report these stories and more?

English channels


With “BJP’s ally talk, KCR’s outreach”, the channel discussed Madhav’s statement. Anchor Nidhi Razdan asked the panellists what the statement implied.

Janata Dal (United) general secretary K.C. Tyagi said Madhav was clear that either this time BJP will get a majority or it will form a government with allies. As for his own perception, he held that “BJP seats will reduce but not to the extent that it would not be able to form government.”

Chandan Mitra of Trinamool Congress said it was “surprising” that “someone respected as a strategist” spoke about the numbers. “This is liable for misinterpretation among BJP cadre and will be taken up as a sign that BJP has given up the fight. It indicates the party’s lack of confidence in the final run.”

Also read | Why West Bengal Won’t Compensate BJP for Hindi Heartland Losses

Congress spokesperson Pranav Jha said a “reversal of 80 to 100 seats” for the BJP was always on the cards.

The channel also had other headlines like “Federal front push”, “First time KCR has reached out to the Left”, “Will visit Bengal for further talks” and “Post-poll game of thrones begins” to illustrate how a third-front government is now a distinct possibility.

Times Now

With #NotMyPMBarb, the channel discussed Modi’s attack on former PM Rajiv Gandhi and Congress’s response to it.

It noted that “BJP says opposition can’t preach” because the Congress itself was using the slogan “chowkidar chor hai” for the last three months.

Anchor Navika Kumar asked, “Why is Modi such a subject of hate, because he won the 2014 election by a popular mandate?”

Lawyer Mehmood Pracha charged that Modi has been generating hatred through both his words and actions. “He evokes strong sentiment. Hatred is generated by his actions –they led to destruction of economy, increased farmer distress and caused loss of jobs.”

The channel also ran headlines like “Mamata: I don’t consider Narendra Modi as my PM”, “We are not Modi’s servants” and “I will only talk to the new Prime Minister”, while reporting how she did not even take his calls following Cyclone Fani.

Political analyst Abdul Razzak Khan accused Modi and the BJP of doing politics over the dead. “First they did it over Pulwama victims and now they are doing it over Rajiv Gandhi.”

At this, Kumar said: “Just because Rajiv was assassinated does not mean you will not talk about his corruption.”

India Today TV

With “Modi drags in Rajiv” and “Rahul’s hug for Modi”, the channel discussed the war of words.

Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav said if corruption of Rajiv Gandhi needs to be spoken about now, then so should the corruption of others, including Savarkar.

Also read | What Has Indian Healthcare Looked Like, Under Five Years of Modi’s Rule?

Anchor Rajdeep Sardesai said, “A PM should bring the best out of us, but he denigrated Nehru and now Rajiv Gandhi.”

Amit Malviya of the BJP accused him of taking this debate away from the issue of corruption to one about morality. “Let this country know who Veer Savarkar was,” he insisted, adding “let not only the Leftist propaganda describe the leaders of the past.”

So, Sardesai intervened, “in 2019, we are to debate the what happened to out leaders in the past – how will you describe loss of jobs and agrarian distress. Should this debate be about Rajiv or Modi’s track record?”

Malviya replied, “If Congress is fighting on Rajiv’s legacy, people have a right to know what he actually did.”

Republic TV

With #BhrashtacharDebate, the channel also debated the corruption issue.

Anchor Arnab Goswami insisted, “Sonia said injustice has been done to Quattroccchi, defreeze his accounts”.  When a couple of panellists asked him where he read this, he had no answer. So, he moved on saying, “Rahul was running a company along with Eduardo Faleiro’s son-in-law.”

The debate saw people refer to the Bofors investigation and the Bhopal gas tragedy and how the accused were allowed to go free by the Congress leaders.

Arnab also questioned why channels were now talking of “low level of debate” and did not do so when Modi was attacked viciously with “do you want your child to become a chaiwala”, “PM looks like a terrorist” or “maha neech” barbs.

Hindi channels

NDTV India

The channel reported on some key constituencies which went to poll in the fifth phase. In Rae Bareli, it said, “Sonia ka muqabla apnay hi MLC Dinesh Singh kay saath” in reference to how a party turncoat was taking her on. Singh’s brother, Rakesh, who is a Congress MLA was shown campaigning for his brother. He insisted that “parties are temporary, but a brother is permanent”.

A Congress leader quipped that the “BJP could not produce a local candidate in Rae Bareli” in all these years. The report said while some are questioning why the constituency did not progress under UPA rule, Congress is saying whatever development happened there was because of Sonia.

There was another report from Amethi, where sitting MP Rahul Gandhi is taking on BJP’s Smriti irani. It said two polling officers were removed after each of them was found putting votes in favour of Congress and BJP in the garb of assisting voters.

Zee News

Anchor Sudhir Chaudhary took a look back at the Bofors investigation. He said, “Even now Congress has no answers to questions which arose”.

The channel also showed an old statement of P. Chidambaram in which he spoke about Rajiv’s inexperience in dealing with the Shah Bano case and in managing the defence contracts crisis arising out of the Bofors case.

Aaj Tak

The channel reported how the CBSE Class 10 Board results have thrown up surprisingly high marks this time with 13 students topping it by getting 499 out of 500 marks. Another 24 scored 498 and 59 got 497.

Overall 91.1% students passed and of the 17.6 lakh who appeared, 2.25 lakh scored over 90% marks.