#PrimetimeWatch: From Real Chowkidars to the Issues Swept Under the Rug

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

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party has claimed that the #MainBhiChowkidar campaign launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has proved to be a big success.

Is this really the case? Is the social media campaign and the opposition’s counter an easy way to cover issues – unemployments, agrarian distress and so on – that may be on voters’ minds?

Here is a look at how the TV channels covered the story, and what else made it to theirprime time shows.

Hindi channels

Zee News

In its primetime show, DNA, the channel covered the BJP’s take on the social media campaign in detail. It said the hashtag launched by Modi was tweeted by 20 lakh people, received 1.68 crore impressions, and also got about a crore pledges on social media.

Anchor Sudhir Chaudhary said Modi will now interact with 500 people who endorsed his campaign, on March 31 The channel also said Modi has turned the elections into a referendum of sorts. A headline said: ‘Chowkidar kay saath ya khilaaf? (Are you with or against the chowkidar?)’

The channel also drew a comparison between #MainBhiChowkidar and Rahul Gandhi’s #ChowkidarChorHai, saying the latter was far behind in number of tweets, and took a dig at the Congress president.

Also read | #PollVault: So Many Chowkidars, but ‘Corruption Watchdog’ Five Years Late

Zee News also ran a story on how people’s voice are apparently being silenced in Rae Bareli, the constituency of former UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, where Congress workers allegedly attacked Hindu Yuva Vahini leaders while they were protesting against Priyanka Gandhi’s visit.

The programme also showed images from Bengaluru on March 18, stating that people who shouted “Modi, Modi” during Rahul Gandhi’s visit were rounded up by the police.

Aaj Tak

Through a series of headlines, the channel conveyed how the `chowkidar’ (watchman) story unravelled during the day.

Its headlines read: “Congress par palatwar, BJP nay banaya pooray desh ko chowkidar (Retaliating to Congress, BJP makes entire country a watchman)” and “Chai pay charcha se main bhi chowkidar”.

Aaj Tak also showed comments from various leaders, BJP and opposition, about the campaign.

NDTV India

During Ravish Kumar’s primetime show, the channel used headlines such “Yahi charcha har ore hai, iss baar chowkidaar ka shor hai” which loosely translates into “everywhere the topic of discussion is the buzz around the watchman”.

The channel also took a closer look at the lives of real watchmen. Several of its headlines alluded to their exploitation at the hands of their employers, like “Kya kabhi aapnay paas kay chowkidar ki sudh li (Have you every cared for the well-being of the watchman near you?)”

ABP News

Like all other Hindi channels, ABP News too focused on the #MainBhiChowkidar campaign.

The channel spoke to several watchmen on what they felt about the campaign. The headline read: “Asal zindagi main chowkidar honay ka matlab (What it means to be a watchman in real life).”

The consensus which emerged was that they are displeased with Modi and Rahul Gandhi for having drawn them into an unnecessary debate, while not paying any heed to their troubles. Some of them said they earn just Rs 1,500 and deserved a better deal for the work they do.

English channels


In the programme anchored by Nidhi Razdan, the channel debated how real issues concerning people have been brushed under the carpet while the ‘chowkidar’ issue rages on.

Making a mention of how Justice P.C. Ghose has been chosen to head the ten-member Lokpal, the channel also asked, “Corruption: How much do people care?”.

Its headlines also played up how the BJP is insisting that the ‘chowkidar” campaign is “a mass movement” now and was only being opposed by “those out on bail”.

Reacting to the campaign, senior Janata Dal (United) leader Pavan Verma said it was “sad that very major issues that affect the lives of ordinary people are not being discussed and we are only focussing on social media wars”.

Times Now

Times Now ran the headline #ChowkidarOrChor – suggesting that those who are not proclaiming themselves to be watchmen now fall into the category of thieves.

During the primetime programme, anchor Navika Kumar said, “In 2014 it was the chaiwala jibe which boomeranged on the Congress and this time it is the chowkidar jibe which is boomeranging on it.”

The channel’s headlines – “Chowkidar is on the job” and “Modi turns the tables again” – showed the slant of the debate.

The channel also sought to portray that under Modi, a campaign has been launched against corruption. “India closes on Nirav”, “Accused of defrauding PNB to the tune of Rs 13,000 crore”, “Options run out for Mallya”, “Michel sings in custody” and “Chowkidar proves himself” were headlines which showed up on the screen.

India Today TV

The “Chowkidar Debate” on the channel had Rajdeep Sardesai as the anchor. India Today TV showed opposition politicians question how big alleged scamsters were allowed to flee during the chowkidar’s regime.

“Self goal or master stroke?” the channel asked.

Sardesai said what has got drowned out is the job crisis, unemployment and farmer distress. “Is this an attempt to shift the focus from key issues?” he asked.

Republic TV

The channel today focused entirely on its sting, titled Operation Bikau Sansad. Through this sting the channel claimed to have caught on camera BJP MP from Ghosi in Uttar Pradesh, Harinarayan Rajbhar; Congress MP from Jalandhar, Santokh Singh Chaudhary and Rashtriya Lok Samta Party MP from Bihar’s Sitamarhi constituency Ram Kumar Sharma saying they were seeking money for allegedly nefarious activities.

Also read | How Not to Appoint a Lokpal

The channel ran a hashtag #MPsOnSale and claimed that this was “the biggest story this election”. It also said this expose comes just 23 days before polling for Lok Sabha begins. It is another matter though that no other channel or news agency followed this story.

During the debate on the programme anchored by Arnab Goswami, political activist Sanjeev Srivastava charged that it was the BJP that has made these elections most expensive. “The chowkidar should concentrate on making the electoral system clean,” he said.