January 19, 2017 12:04:01 am
Haven’t they just had a great ride with this story? For two months and more, the news channels, in particular, the Hindi channels devoted to UP and Uttarakhand, have been going round and round in circles — because that is what wheels do, right? And if those wheels belong to the cycle on which Mulayam Singh was taking Akhilesh for a ride, or Akhilesh was spinning him out of control, then even better.
As the wheels of fortune (forgive the pun) in the Samajwadi Party have turned this way and that, every move made by the main protagonists, the son and the father, has been faithfully and literally followed. So, if in the first week of January, Azam Khan went to meet UP’s CM, Prime News was there to welcome him; when Mulayam Singh arrived in the capital on a foggy Delhi morning, India News was there to explain why the situation in the SP was, well, still foggy.
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As the drama moved to the Election Commission, all the news channels on 9 January went with “Dangal in SP” or some such variation, but with “dangal” always in the headline — where would we all be without Bollywood?
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Except that, for some, it was more than a regular Bollywood drama: “Cyclone over Cycle” is how CNN News 18 described it that afternoon. Clearly, none of its headline writers have actually faced a cyclone, otherwise they wouldn’t describe the “tug of war” over the cycle in such grandiose and destructive terms.
By the time we came to this Monday, D-Day for the resolution of the “tug of war” that could break the cycle and the Samajwadi Party into two before the assembly elections, nerves were tingling. When APN, Newsstate and Samachar reported Mulayam Singh’s comments to party workers, where he played the Muslim card and, like a Bollywood father, threatened to fight against the son he had given everything to, it was with something akin to relish. “A masterstoke,” said APN; Mulayam has played “his last card” with an emotional appeal. This speech, said the channel almost gleefully, will cost Akhilesh dearly — “bahut bada nuksaan”, to be exact.
National Voice had on-the-spot analysis from its reporter Raghuvanshi, who described Mulayam’s speech as “emotional atyachaar”. And just when you began to think that perhaps Mulayam had outsmarted his son, came the Monday evening ruling on the party symbol in favour of Akhilesh: “Beta jeeta, baap haara,” announced ABP baldly. A smug Ram Gopal Yadav gave interviews to every channel but was most careful to refrain from direct criticism of Mulayam Singh. He slyly spoke of how he knew justice was on Akhilesh’s side.
The anchor on Samachar Plus was somewhat confused; was this Akhilesh’s victory, Mulayam’s victory or his loss, she asked reporter Abhishek Singh. But let’s not criticise her. Through the last few months, reporters have suggested that the war in the SP has an underlying narrative: That the father is on the son’s side and will never leave him or vice versa, despite “Dangal” appearances.
CNN News 18 was having none of it; “Akhilesh cycles away,” it announced. Perhaps the channel should be less hasty. As the Samachar Plus reporter reminded us, the fighting within the family may never quite end.
When channels could tear themselves away from the “emotional atyachaar” of Mulayam & Family, they have been holding “sabhas” where local leaders behave as if they were on the The Newshour (Times Now) or seeking public opinion as has ABP with its mandi charchas across UP. While some say Akhilesh has been a good CM, others speak in favour of the BJP. No mention of Mayawati. Interesting.
Speaking of her, Times Now has been going after her brother with allegations of corruption while other channels have, by and large, ignored it. Hmmn.
Away from the hustle and bustle of UP politics came news that Barkha Dutt was leaving NDTV 24×7 after 21 years. TV news will not be the same again for English channels. First, Arnab Goswami left Times Now and now, Dutt will not be there for The Buck Stops Here or We the People, her talisman shows.
The show must go on and it so does as other anchors seize the opportunity to be in the spotlight.
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