New Delhi: Attorney General K.K. Venugopal said even before the three-judge in-house inquiry committee was constituted by the Supreme Court to investigate sexual harassment charges by a former employee against Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, he wrote to the CJI and four senior judges to demand that the charges be investigated by a panel of three retired judges. The SC panel had gone on to state that it “found no substance” in the allegations.
Congress leader Sam Pitroda charged that his “hua to hua” comment on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots was “taken out of context” and “misrepresented”. Apologising for it, he clarified that it was also partly because his “Hindi isn’t good”. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi used the comment during a rally at Rohtak to attack the Congress. He insisted that it showed the party’s “character, mentality and intention”.
How did the media report these stories and more?
In ‘Masterstroke’, anchor Rubika Liyaquat reported on the Pitroda controversy. He was described in the programme as “Rahul Gandhi kay guru”.
The channel ran headlines like “Vivaad kay baad pitroda ki safai – teen shabdon say jhoot bola gaya” (Pitroda’s clarification after controversy – lie came through three words). It showed him saying that his statement was twisted and BJP used it to lie about the issue.
But the channel through a series of headlines, took a dig at him. “Paanch dinon tak Bharat jalta raha – bayan aaya ‘hua to hua’” (For five days India burnt, statement came, ‘it happened so what’). Likewise, it recalled that “3325 logon ki hatya ho gayee” (3325 people lost their lives) and “Hazaron logon kay ghar ujad gay” (thousands lost their homes) but still the Congress leader said ‘so what’.
The channel also spoke about Modi raising the issue in his election speech. It also gave data on how of the 118 seats that are to go to polls on May 12, at least 30 have a significant number of Sikh voters. It quoted him as saying that the statement showed “charitra, mansikta aur iraada” of the Congress.
Liaquat asked where was the need for Pitroda to make a statement before polls that have hurt everyone who saw the 1984 Sikh riots.
The channel reported on how TIME magazine in its latest international edition has described Modi as “India’s divider-in-chief”. It said the story has been written by Aatish Taseer, son of Indian journalist Tavleen Singh and late Pakistani politician and businessman Salmaan Taseer.
Talking about how Western media and foreigners try to influence Indian elections, anchor Sudhir Chaudhary said first Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan deliberately stated that he wished Modi wins the election and now a Pakistani journalist has written the article.
“Time has written a piece on Modi describing him as “India’s divider-in-chief”, but in the 3,352-word write-up, “there is not even a single mention of the word divide”, he said, alleging that playing with words, the article seeks to set an agenda.
Going into the story, he said the writer has projected a negative image of the Indian PM, saying: “Modi is at once an inevitability and a calamity for India”. The article also draws a parallel between Modi and Nehru and discusses their various policies for Muslims, Chaudhary said.
Chaudhary said there is also a second article on Modi in the magazine which describes him as a reformer in a positive sense. “However, it has been shown on the front page in a smaller font, and this makes the magazine’s intent clear”.
Anchor Nidhi Razdan interviewed BJP leader and Union minister Nitin Gadkari. She asked him about the recent use of foul words by politicians, including Modi, against their opponents. Gadkari responded saying “Action ka reaction to hota hi hai”. He also declared that he was “fully confident that Modi will become PM.”
On being asked if it was right for the party to sideline a stalwart like Advani and not give him a ticket from Gandhinagar, the constituency from where BJP president Amit Shah subsequently fought, Gadkari said leaders like Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi were “marg-darshaks” or “guides” for the party. “There is also the age factor. The party decided not to give tickets to those over 75.”
Razdan said on being denied a ticket, Advani also wrote a blog in which he raised several issues. “Was there a message for the party in it?” Gadkari said it is a matter of perception and looking at things.
On being asked about Shatrughan Sinha’s claim that the BJP is a “two-man show, one-man party”, Gadkari quipped that he is now in the Congress while his wife was contesting on a Samajwadi Party ticket. “This is only politics of opportunism, if we had made him a minister, everything would have been fine.”
Asked whether the election was “completely about Modi and his personality”, Gadkari replied that “in politics, there has to be a balance between a party and a leader, both have to be equally strong and we are working with both”.
“Is it good to be centred around one person?” Razdan asked, to which he said: “BJP is not a party of one person, never was; it is of workers and everyone here stands for some principles like nationalism, equity and redevelopment of the country.”
He also insisted that while Modi is the “leader”, the party is not his alone. “Unlike the Congress, here it is not the case that only members of a family can become top leaders.”
Asked if he was the “dark horse for PM post”, Gadkari said “I am not. There is no question because BJP will get a full majority and Modi will be PM.”
With “BJP’s saffron poster boy unedited”, anchor Navika Kumar interviewed Uttar Pradesh CM Adityanath. She asked him why there is not talk of development and only emotive issues and claims like “Modi ki sena” were being raised.
Adityanath said: “In five years Modi government gave houses, toilets, gas connections and power connections to all without looking at caste or religion. But media does not want to see this.”
To why an accused in Mohammad Akhlaq’s lynching in Dadri was allowed to sit in the first row in his rally, Adityanath said, “Anyone can come, he was not on stage”. When Kumar questioned, “was it a message?” he replied, “No, there is no message.”
Asked if Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi’s plan to contest from Varanasi opposite Modi had unnerved him, he said: “We wanted Priyanka to fight from there, wanted truth about the actual public support for her to be revealed. But it is the tradition of Congress that it does not make sacrifices, and instead takes sacrifices. And that is why she decided not to contest.”
Kumar said has he forgotten the past of the Congress. “Forget the past. From Varanasi, there was “palayan” (migration) of the party. It is only proving to be a vote ‘katuwa’ (cutter).”
On the SP-BSP alliance damaging BJP’s prospects, he said, “In 1993 too, they had an alliance.” Adityanath held that Akhilesh has damaged the party Mulayam Singh had worked hard for by allying with the BSP. “In five years, people have seen a significant change – schemes have reached them, they will vote keeping that in mind.”
The channel had a debate around #OperationVadra. “Operation Vadra is a series of sting operations on the alleged close circle of Robert Vadra’s property fixers who lay bare the alleged shadowy network of commission agents, forgery tainted deals and nexus of payments linked to Priyanka Vadra’s husband’s property dealings,” was how the channel described it.
Anchor Arnab Goswami insisted that the sting has exposed the Congress.
Political analyst Nishant Verma, however, questioned his claim saying there was no need for a BJP government anymore as Goswami himself can play both investigator and judge. He quipped that it should make Goswami the PM instead.
Political commentator M.R. Venkatesh said the sting has exposed a “classical example of benami transaction” as people shown on it claimed to be holding land for someone else. “This aspect had not come out before,” he said.
Speaking against the sting, a panellist Anirban questioned if the deals were indeed so sinister, “What was the Modi government doing for the last five years?”
In “Amritsari Kulcha with Rajdeep”, the anchor met with senior Punjab politicians. He spoke to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Sukhbir Badal who defended his party’s loss in the 2017 assembly election saying “we fought a storm them”. And yet, he said SAD “managed 31% votes as against 37% of the Congress”.
But this time, Badal said ‘there is a reverse-cyclone’. He said the wind was blowing against the Congress and AAP. “You will get the result – Akali-BJP combine will win more than ten” (of the 13 Lok Sabha seats).
Sardesai also met Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh. He asked him if this election was tougher than the 2017 polls, when the anti-incumbency was against the Akalis. Singh replied that “it is a national election and if anything, incumbency is against BJP, not us. We have gained a great deal in the last two years.”