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TV news is in love with AAP, it’s finding fault in their stars—from Kejriwal to Sisodia

Is the extensive TV news coverage it receives building up AAP or putting it down?

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This much is for sure: Arvind Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party didn’t need a lunar eclipse to face misfortunes.

Each day, nay, every few hours of each day, television news channels tell us there’s ‘more trouble’ brewing ‘for Kejriwal and Sisodia’ (Republic TV). In just the last three days, they have gone hammer and tongs at AAP over the alleged ‘Liquorgate’ scam, the air pollution levels in the capital and subsequent protests by unhappy transport workers — “Can AAP clear the air?” asked Times Now. Other issues where AAP found the TV spotlight included ‘Delhi Dangal’ (India Today) over the Ghazipur landfill, jailed ‘maha thug’ (Zee Hindustan) Sukesh Chandrashekhar’s daily letter ‘bombs’ and the loss of a by-election in Haryana.

Perhaps, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia need to consult the stars—or the numerous ‘pandits’, astrologers and other soothsaysers, such as a tarot card reader, who spent Monday and Tuesday in TV studios suggesting remedies to offset the ill-effects of Tuesday’s lunar eclipse. Give sugar or milk to the poor, recite holy mantras, keep something orange by your side (if your sun sign is Aries), drink tulsi water, fast, think of god, et cetera. Who knows, they may have a cure for AAP’s woes?

Or are we reading the TV leaves wrongly? Is the extensive TV news coverage AAP receives building up the party or putting it down? Well, either way, AAP doesn’t appear to be in any danger of a total eclipse.

Kejriwal’s and Sisodia’s every utterance makes headline news, especially when they attack the BJP or Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In Gujarat, Kejriwal’s speeches and town hall meetings received live telecasts, albeit briefly. Even Sisodia’s Wednesday morning visit to the Ghazipur landfill was ‘Breaking News’ across channels. Of course, that’s because the campaign for Delhi’s civic body elections has gathered momentum. But we neither see nor hear anything about the Congress, the other contender in the polls.

That’s the case with all news developments that involve AAP: when conman Sukesh Chandrashekhar, currently serving his sentence at Delhi’s Tihar Jail, writes letters containing allegations of corruption against AAP’s Satyender Jain and other leaders, as it happened on Monday and Tuesday, news channels give it top billing through the day and repeat all the lurid details of the Chandrashekhar’s allegations.

Mirror Now, for example, told the viewers that the accused claimed to have enjoyed a dinner date with Kejriwal in 2016. After each letter, the BJP spices up the issue by adding its own masala. On Monday, it held a press conference to ‘fire a fresh salvo’, reported News X. ‘BJP slams corrupt AAP’, said Times Now, whereupon AAP hit back and we saw another AAP-BJP flare-up. Is all this adding to the very poor air quality in the capital, do you think?

Delhi’s air emergency’ (Republic TV), the other main developing, or in this instance, deteriorating story, deservedly receives much attention. As reported on several news channels, the air quality is a barometer of AAP’s governance in Delhi and Punjab, with channels pointing a finger at the party. “Stubble burning continues on CM’s turf. Who will end the stubble burning menace?” demanded CNN News 18. Graphic maps with flaming fields were showcased — ‘Dear netas, wake up!’ pleaded News X.

(Blissfully unmindful of such criticism, advertisements extolling the virtues of the Punjab AAP government and its chief minister Bhagwant Singh Mann play out several times a day.)

The same ding-dong battle occurred when channels like CNN News 18, Times Now and Republic TV reported Monday morning that one of the accused in ‘Liquorgate’ and Sisodia’s aide Dinesh Arora, was likely to turn approver in the case. The BJP triumphantly cried ‘Aha’ or words to that effect, and AAP immediately replied ‘Oho’, saying Arora had been ‘pressurised’ (CNN News 18). All of this was gleefully reported by news channels.

Most of the coverage AAP receives is negative, as you can see from the examples above. The idea we form of the party based on such stories depends on how we look at it: the dominant view is of a party mired in corruption and a prisoner of its own shortcomings in governance – that’s the BJP way of seeing it. The other image is of a feisty little David being hounded and targeted by a lumbering and large Goliath – that’s AAP’s version of recent events.

For now, Kejriwal & Co. look pumped up and jolly pleased with themselves for getting under the BJP’s skin. Will poll results in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi justify or belie their belief that AAP is BJP’s stiffest competition? Let’s see.

Also read: TV news calls it ‘murder’ on Gujarat’s Morbi bridge, offers many questions and fewer answers

Decoding lunar eclipse on TV

Those of us in Delhi didn’t see the lunar eclipse for obvious reasons. However, television news provided us many glimpses of the moon as it was put in the shade — TV9 Bharatvarsh had eight camera views of it.

However, most Hindi news channels were less interested in the phenomenon and more fascinated by its possible influences on human beings. In particular, they were absorbed in the celestial fallout of the eclipse and decided that science was inadequate to explain. They would turn to those high gurus of knowledge as interpreters of maladies.

On ABP News, one of these individuals, reciting mantras like the alphabet, said the lunar eclipse would have ‘psychic’ influences — mental and hormonal changes were possible. A fellow astrologer on News 24 added that the impact of the eclipse would be felt by people for 45 days. But another one on Aaj Tak disagreed: he said some mental health issues would be experienced for up to 15 days after the eclipse. On India TV, a ‘pundit’ said that pregnant women should pray, and be positive. If a mother-to-be wanted her child to be an IAS officer, she had to recite a particular mantra, he added. On Aaj Tak, the ‘pundit’ also foresaw conflicts and confrontations, an increase in corruption and prices. The ‘pundit’ on Zee News said there could be accidents and ill health, troubles in relationships, also between wife and husband… he warned politicians to be careful.

As for the tarot card reader on News 24…well, do you really want to know what she predicted?

Views are personal.

(Edited by Anurag Chaubey)

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