#Primetimewatch: Channels Report EC Clean Chit to PM, MHA Notice to Rahul But Ignore CJI Case

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

New Delhi: The Election Commission said on Tuesday that it found no violation of model code of conduct (MCC) in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech in which he referred to Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s decision to also contest from Wayanad as the party “running away from majority dominated areas” to “take refuge in areas where the majority is in minority”.

The Supreme Court told Rahul to either admit his mistake or face contempt for attributing his ‘chowkidar chor hai’ comment following the Rafale order to the apex court.

The former woman employee of the Supreme Court who alleged sexual harassment by the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said she felt she was “not likely to get justice” from the three-judge enquiry panel – which also comprises two women judges.

Madras HC ruled that Puducherry Lieutenant-Governor Kiran Bedi cannot run a parallel government and interfere with the day-to-day functioning of the elected government.

How did the media report these stories?

English channels

India Today TV

Anchor Rajdeep Sardesai took up “EC cleanchit to PM”. In the Wardha speech case, a report stated that the EC said Modi’s speech was in accordance with the Representation of People’s Act and the MCC. Also, it cited the Maharashtra CEO’s report in the matter.

The channel also played what Modi actually said in Wardha. Sardesai said, “this was seen to be an appeal on the ground of religion”. “Cong – PM linked us to Hindu terror” gave the reason behind the Congress complaint.

With a catchphrase, “Citizenship Test” and headline, “Big war of documents”, the channel also reported the Ministry of Home Affair’s “Notice in the middle of polls” to Rahul Gandhi on having dual citizenship of India and UK.

“Priyanka trashes government notice” and “Rajnath: Notice as per rules” ran the headlines.

The report quoted Priyanka as saying, “Pooray Hindustan ko maloom hai Rahul Gandhi Hindustani hai – yahin paida hua ….. kya bakwaas hai yeh” (Entire nation knows Rahul is Indian, he was born here …. what rubbish is this?)”

Sardesai also mentioned how this question, which was also raised by the BJP at a press conference, was first raised in 2015, but thereafter the Supreme Court, a Lok Sabha panel and the Election Commission did not find any merit in it.


In “Left, Right and Centre’, the channel also took up “Rahul Citizenship Row”.

Anchor Nidhi Razdan spoke to Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared for Rahul in the SC in the ‘chowkidar’ case,  about the MHA notice. She said it was based on a complaint filed by BJP’s Subramanian Swamy a year-and-a-half ago. To this, Singhvi retorted: “Do you think this kind of nonsense in the middle of elections has any resonance? Why was this question not asked in the last 15 years, of which five have been of BJP rule?”

So, Razdan asked, “You see it as an absurd political move”. Singhvi nodded: “It is a joke”.

Razdan also quizzed him about the day’s proceedings in ‘chowkidar chor hai’ case in SC. Singhvi said the court has only observed that regret is not good enough. However, he insisted that “the court only speaks in its final order”.

The channel ran headlines like “New affidavit to have ‘apology’ and not ‘regret’” and “Contempt case – Rahul to apologise” to indicate what may happen ahead.

The channel also debated EC’s order on Modi.

Also read: Did Modi Break the Same Law that Got Indira Debarred – and Brought on the Emergency?

Senior Supreme Court advocate Dushyant Dave said: “I would have been surprised if the EC said it is a violation. There is no constitutional institution left which is in position or has the capability to make a remark against Mr Modi let alone pass an order against him. No institution is prepared to take Mr Modi on. It is an unfortunate thing.”

He said, “I have no doubt that the EC’s decision was influenced by the fact that the statement was made by the PM …. EC is expected to be fiercely independent …. But slowly and steadily the EC is getting highly polarised … it is losing its independence.”

He insisted that even the BJP manifesto was in violation of the MCC as it had references to Ram Temple and Sabarimala. “On this manifesto alone, the BJP should have been censured – but EC remained silent and singularly blind”.

Senior journalist Nalini Singh said the clean chit shows that “things have changed”. She also pointed out how no action has been taken till date against Rajasthan governor Kalyan Singh for openly appealing to people to vote for Modi. “We have to question if this is a level playing field – you cannot appeal to religion and caste,” she said, demanding more from the EC and saying it was actually the ruling party during elections.

Mohammad Khan of Congress said there were ten complaints by his party which were pending before the poll panel. He said the PM’s speech gave a clear import of what it was about. “An IUML candidate was disqualified last year for a hate speech, but the same standard is not being applied to Modi.”

Hitesh Jain of the BJP countered by asking: “Which body has not been left out by compulsive contrarians? They call everybody names, they bring in impeachment proceedings, they attack the integrity of the SC, they could not defeat Modi electorally so they try these backdoor methods.”

He insisted that what was actually communal was Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad saying that Hindu candidates of his party have stopped inviting him for a campaign or Manmohan Singh telling people that Muslims have the first right to the nation’s resources. “We speak for about 135 crore Indians.”

Times Now

With #RahulAdmitsFakery and headlines like “SC never said ‘chowkidar chor hai’” the channel reported the developments.

In ‘The Newshour’ debate, a panellist said Rahul made the mistake of attributing a statement to the Supreme Court and he has regretted it. There is no harm in apologising for one’s mistakes.

At this, anchor Navika Kumar said, “fair point – they have apologised for a mistake – would anyone in the BJP have done so”.

Amit Malviya of the BJP responded that what Rahul did was deliberate. “Why did Rahul attribute ‘chowkidar chor hai” to the Supreme Court – because no one was buying his bogus theory and he wanted to make it sound more genuine by bringing in the apex court.”

Abhishek Singhvi’s son, Avishkar, who also appeared in the matter said, “the debate has gone very far away from the contempt case before the Supreme Court”.

When Kumar asked if the issue had struck “at the root of the credibility of a leader of a national party”, Avishkar said, “apologising also adds to the credibility.”

Hindi channels

ABP News

The channel reported the resurfacing of the ISIS leader Abu Bakr Baghdadi with the release of an 18-minute video in which he was shown praising the suicide attacks in Sri Lanka.

“5 saal baad Baghdadi phir aa gaya?” (Baghdadi returns after five years?) ran a headline as the channel reported how on July 4, 2014, he was seen addressing people from Al Nuri mosque in Mosul, Iraq where he declared himself a ‘khalifa” or leader of the Caliphate. Thereafter he disappeared and over the years, the US, Iran and even Russia have claimed that he was dead.

The latest video showed an older-looking Baghdadi with three men hailing the killings of some Americans and Europeans in the Sri Lankan bombings. He claimed that these attacks were in retaliation to the action against ISIS in Syria’s Baghouz – and not a revenge for the New Zealand mosque attack.

NDTV India

In his primetime programme, anchor Ravish Kumar had a story on how the Skill India programme has slowed down leading to losses to those who had set up skill centres for it. He noted that “as per the government, 11.28 lakh got jobs” but said recent protests by owners of over 2,500 training centres showed that things were far from rosy.

Rozgar dilanay aaye thay, khug berozgaar hog aye” (They came to deliver jobs, themselves became jobless) was a headline which accompanied the story.

Also read: How to ‘Skill India’ When the Jobs are Bad

It showed a skill centre in Dwarka which affiliated itself to the Prime Minister Kaushal Vikas Yojana. Showing the empty classes with computers and sewing machines, the owner said the centre was set up as per the norms but has not received any work for nearly two years. He said the only batch to roll out was in 2017-18 in which 780 trainings were completed.

“But no fresh targets were provided and while we are spending nearly Rs 1 lakh on rent and staff costs, the department is not providing any clear answers on when work will resume,” lamented the owner.

Zee News

The channel reported the Indian Army’s tweet in which it said the “mysterious footprints” sighted by its mountaineering expedition were of the “mythical beast yeti”.

The report said these footmarks measuring 32X15 inches were found at a height of around 15,000 feet on the 8,485 meters high Makalu mountain. It said the footmarks “could not be of a human” and recalled previous such sightings related to the “elusive snowman”.

Aaj Tak

The channel also reported, “Baghdadi zinda hai” (Baghdadi is alive) and said he has given the proof by releasing an 18-minute video in which he praises the Lanka attack.

The programme ran the video clip of Baghdadi in which he also thanked those who have been supporting the ISIS movement in Sri Lanka.