New Delhi: Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu compared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a “bride” who only pretends to work. Accusing Modi of “running away from real issues”, the former cricketer said, “Modiji uss dulhan ki tarah hain jo roti kum baelti hai aur chudiyaan zada khankati hai taaki mohalle walon ko yeh pata chale ki woh kaam kar rahi hai (Modi is like the bride who makes less rotis but more noise with the bangles to give the impression to her neighbours that she is working).”
Several interesting contests are on the cards as 59 constituencies go to polls on Sunday. Among these are former Congress chief minister Digvijay Singh taking on Malegaon blast accused ‘sadhvi’ Pragya Thakur in Bhopal; Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav facing Bhojpuri singer Dinesh Lal Yadav ‘Nirahua’ of BJP in Azamgarh; and cricketer Gautam Gambhir of BJP taking on Aam Aadmi Party’s Atishi in East Delhi.
How did the media report these stories and more?
In The Big Fight – Road to 2019, the channel asked if “PM’s Rajiv Remark – [is] a new low?”
Anchor Sara Jacob asked if prime minister should be held to a certain standard.
Political analyst Geeta Bhatt said, “Whether it is Priyanka or Rahul Gandhi, they have been talking about Nehru-Gandhi family and there is no problem with that. But the other side also has a right to ask serious questions.”
She insisted that “As PM, Rajiv Gandhi gave legitimacy to killing of thousands of Sikh with his ‘Jab bada pedh girta hai… (When a big tree falls…)’ remark.”
Journalist Bhasha Singh said, “But the Nanavati Commission did not make a connection between Rajiv and the 1984 riots.”
To Jacob’s question on why Modi has not been speaking about his government’s work or himself, Bhatt said he has. “So many times it was said that PM sleeps so little and works so hard. However, Rahul will not be able to match up – it is all about the potential of the people.”
With headlines reading “Personal attacks hijack public issues?” and “Rahul: PM Modi has personal hatred”, Jacob asked: “Are we obsessing over non-issues?”
Singh replied that these are real issues. “PM made Pragya Thakur, who is out on bail in a terror case, the candidate in Bhopal. He has used anti-woman jargon like “vidhwa vilaap” for referring to Sonia Gandhi. He also used such language when he was chief minister. This is the basic character of Modi.”
The channel took up the “Digvijaya vs Sadhvi Pragya” fight in Bhopal and asked, “Can sadhvi defeat MP ex-CM?”
It noted that “7,000 sadhus backed Digvijay” even as Pragya Thakur was fighting what she called “Dharm Yudha”.
A report said Digvijay is hoping with the Narmada yatra and by bringing in sadhus that he will be able to scrape through. The BJP, on the other hand, is talking about his comments on “Hindu terror” and Zakir Naik to project him as someone who was against the religion.
Anchor Gaurav Sawant started the debate saying “let’s make sense of this `dharm yudh’.”
He asked Vineet Goenka of the BJP why a terror accused was given ticket by the party. Goenka made an illogical excuse, saying, “It is improper to say she is a terror accused – the case is going on and she is out on bail. Sonia and Rahul are also on bail. Congress also tied with Lalu Yadav’s party though he is convicted.”
Naseer Hussain of the Congress countered that “no terror accused is fighting the election for Congress.”
Through “BJP: Cong likes “Italy ke rang’”, “Another Cong self-goal” and “Cong throws racist barb”, the channel discussed Sidhu’s statement in Indore where, while attacking the BJP, he urged the voters to free the country from “kale angrezon (black Britishers)”.
With #CongDarkSide, the programme discussed the `racist’ attack. Anchor Madav asked if such harsh statements being made from both sides in the poll season were justified. BJP supporter and lawyer Shehzad Poonawala said, “How is it that people are objecting to a former PM being called corrupt, when the current PM is called the same everyday?”
Shazia Ilmi of the BJP said Sidhu’s remark was abhorrent. “We have no European lineage, we are happy in our ‘shyam rang’ or brown skin.”
Congress MP Alimuddin Khan charged that BJP does not care for Muslims. “There are no ticket given to Muslims by BJP.” As the debate deviated from the question it sought to ask, Madhav moved on to the next issue of the day.
The channel interviewed Bhojpuri singer Ravi Kishan, who has been fielded by the BJP from UP chief minister Adityanath’s constituency of Gorakhpur. Kishan was shown starting his day from a Shiv temple and raising slogan of “Bharat mata ki jai” and “Vande mataram” as he went around the constituency in a car.
With headlines like “Ravi Kishan – From Cong to BJP” and “A Bhojpuri star and B-town actor”, the channel asked Kishan about his sense of the contest. “It will be `bam bam’,” he replied, claiming that he has Modi and Adityanath’s honest work and `sewa’ to fall back on. “I will reap the fruit – when your leaders are honest you can openly seek votes – and people say we will definitely vote for you.”
Anchor-editor Ravish Kumar interviewed Congress president Rahul Gandhi. He asked him about the words spoken during the campaign. “I learn from all – from Modi, RSS, you and them,” Gandhi said, turning to the people around the venue. “When something is said about me, I listen,” he added.
Asked if on issues like demonetisation, Sohrabuddin fake encounter killing and Judge Loya’s alleged murder case he would order a probe, all that Gandhi was willing to commit was: “We are not vindictive – we do not act like Modi. If a law is broken then law will take its course.”
On whether he thought, the “judiciary is under pressure”, he replied, “why only me, even four Supreme Court judges said so. Which was the power they were referring to? It is the same power I and you are fighting.”
Asked “will Priyanka go to parliament”, he said, “haven’t thought about it”.
On what was his fight with BSP leader Mayawati about, Gandhi said: “She is a symbol to the country but she gave a message. I respect and love her – but we have a political fight with BSP. However, I respect her contribution as I do of Akhilesh and Stalin.”