New Delhi: Peeved at the Election Commission giving four clean chits to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and another to BJP president Amit Shah for MCC violations, Congress president Rahul Gandhi accused the poll panel of being “completely biased” against the opposition.
Union finance minister Arun Jaitley charged that Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi set up a liaising company with US national Ulrik McKnight, who later benefited from the Scorpene submarine contract during the UPA regime. Rahul denied the charge saying “there is no issue.”
How did the media report these stories and more.
With headlines like “EC – Toothless Tiger?” and “EC divided over Modi-Shah clean shit” the channel discussed the issue of Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa giving his dissent in at least two off the clean chits given to Modi.
Anchor Sarah Jacob asked why was it that the details of these orders were not being uploaded by the poll panel on its website. “Why is information not being made public?” she asked.
Mamata Kale of the BJP accused the opposition of undermining the authority of EC as a constitutional body.
As for Rahul’s charge, she said it was the Congress which influenced the poll panel. “During the 2009 elections, 204 MPs of the NDA had signed a letter saying EC was leaning towards the Congress,” she said, adding that the party also gave six acres of land to a former Chief Election Commissioner when he floated his own NGO.
Senior journalist Vinod Sharma said “Lavasa has put his dissent on the file and in doing so stood up to be counted. This augurs well for the Commission and the Constitution.” The EC cannot operate in any degree of opacity, he said, adding that “not putting these orders on the website remind me of the technique (of Modi government) where if they do not want a Bill to be discussed in Rajya Sabha, they declare it a money bill.”
While a headline said, “EC: No order passed, letter sent to Cong”, Sharma also advocated the need for making the appointment process of Commissioners more independent of the government. “The way they are appointed right now is completely in hands of government,” he said.
Through #RahulUKFirmMystery and headlines like “Ex-partner allegedly benefited” and “Modi makes quid pro quo charge” the channel discussed Jaitley’s allegation and Modi raising the issue of Rahul benefiting from the company at an election rally .
Anchor Swati Joshi read a timeline of the case on the basis of Jaitley’s charge.
The channel reported how in 2002, Backops Services Pvt. Ltd. was registered in India and Rahul and Priyanka became its directors.
In 2003, a firm with a similar name was registered in the UK in which Rahul Gandhi and Ulrik Mcknight were directors.
In 2009, Rahul Gandhi left the UK firm.
In 2010, the Indian company wound up. But McKnight, who was married to a Congress leader’s daughter, remained associated with different firms which benefited from defence offset contracts.
“Rahul denies quid pro quo charge”, another headline said. Political analyst Ravi Srivastava said the charges were being levelled to counter the embarrassment caused to the NDA by the Rafale deal. However, he said, there was nothing in the allegations and they have all been answered before. He also insisted that Rahul stated he was open to any investigation.
Avinash Malavika of BJP said what is of consequence is “what was Rahul doing in the company till 2009”.
With #RahulScorpeneLink and headlines like “Massive scandal hits Congress,” “Scorpene defence deal expose” and “Rahul’s partner a defence agent,” it too reported on Jaitley’s allegation.
The anchor said “Rahul did not say these papers were fabricated” and asked “why was a defamation case not filed by Congress president if they indeed were”. So, too with the questions on his citizenship, the Congress had raised issued about authenticity of the papers.
Amidst the cacophony during the debate, the anchor insisted that “these documents are as real as they get”.
Anchor Rahul Kanwal interviewed Amit Shah during a road trip.
On the rise of militancy in Kashmir, he asked when one is killed many more are born. Shah replied “we are going in the right direction – the results will come out soon.”
To Kanwal’s question on Mehbooba Mufti saying if Article 370 or Article 35A of the Indian Constitution were abrogated, Kashmir would cease to be a part of India, Shah said: “We are not afraid of threats. I and my party believe they should be removed.”
He also said the original residents of the state should definitely have a right to stay there. But he demanded that the situation should not be compared to Palestine or China and should be allowed to be resolved peacefully.
On Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan saying that Modi would be best suited for peace talks, Shah said Indian’s understand the real intention behind the comments. “Imran does reverse swing balling – believes Indian population would be fooled – he did not understand India’s maturity.”
Coming to how Uttar Pradesh was the biggest battle for BJP, Shah said Prime Minister Modi is himself contesting from there. “We are fighting for 50% votes”. On the SP-BSP caste equation posing a major threat, he claimed “UP came out of caste politics after the Modi and Yogi governments; everyone feels this is our government. In some seats, BSP’s Dalit and Muslim votes were over 50% in 2014 and yet we won.”
The channel reported how while campaigning in Pratapgarh, Modi took a dig at Priyanka’s statement that Congress was actually out there in UP to cut BJP votes by calling the party “vote-katuwa”.
“PM Modi ka mahagathbandhan `katuwa’ bayan” (Modi’s statement to ‘cut’ alliance) and “SP-Congress kay beech yeh rishta kya kehlata hai’ (What is this relationship between SP-Congress called” was how the channel presented the development.
It showed Modi also spoke about “how the party which was earlier claiming it was in race for PM post is now saying it was vote `katuwa’ party – this is an example of Congress’ downfall.”
The channel again focussed on the past of Jaish-e-Mohammad leader Masood Azhar. This time, anchor Sudhir Chaudhary did an analysis of his 25-year-old confession.
It also reported how Azhar was finally released along with two other terrorists, Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar and Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, following the IC-814 hijacking in 1999.
Chaudhary pegged Azhar’s past with the claims and counter-claims around him being declared a global terrorist by the UN.
“Congress ki badhi chunavi baichaini (Congress’ electoral unease increases)” was how it looked at the declaration benefiting the BJP government.
The channel also showed the opposition’s reaction to the BJP’s claim that getting Azhar declared a global terrorist was a diplomatic victory.
It showed AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi saying “India, China, US Secretary of state are all saying it is their victory.” Congress leader Rajiv Shukla questioned how could it be the BJP’s victory when “it was the BJP government which released them (Azhar and other terrorists)”.
Nationalist Congress Party leader Majid Memon, too, insisted that “it is not a success of Modi government”.
On the other hand, the channel showed Jaitley saying the Opposition is not celebrating the diplomatic victory as it fears paying a political price for it.
The channel reported the damage caused by Cyclone Fani in Odisha and how it subsequently weakened and reached West Bengal.
In Bengal too, it said, the storm caused significant damage. Due to the cyclone, it reported five people were injured in Bengal. Air services were also disrupted for close to 24 hours, but resumed after the storm weakened and moved towards Bangladesh.