New Delhi: Prime time news Wednesday was like yesterday once more, with the same major concerns as on Tuesday — the rapidly increasing number of coronavirus cases and the upcoming assembly elections across the country.
On News Nation, Deepak Chaurasia discussed Mamata Banerjee’s alleged shift towards “soft Hindutva” while India Today’s Rajdeep Sardesai asked hard questions on why Covid-19 norms were being violated at election rallies.
Sardesai wondered out loud: “Why are there no Covid norms for an election campaign? Why are they not being followed? Are there different rules for netas and citizens and do crowded rallies carry risk of another Covid surge?”
He asked his guest, former chief election commissioner S.Y. Quraishi: “What can the Election Commission do? They put in guidelines before the election process that everyone should wear a mask… I have been travelling across the country from Assam to Kerala and I see none of it. No action has been taken, are there different rules for the aam aadmi in this country?”
Quraishi replied, “I think the Election Commission should immediately issue a public warning that in the next few hours it is going to come down heavily and they should also appeal to the leaders.” He added that the EC must act against leaders for violating Covid-19 norms at election rallies.
On NDTV 24×7, anchor Vishnu Som found that infections have increased among younger people, aged 18-30 years — by a whopping 27.81 per cent — from 15-30 March. He feared that the numbers could keep going up with the current strain.
To this, Dr Randeep Guleria, Director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences Delhi, said, “Because there is lack of Covid-appropriate behaviour and the belief that Covid will be a mild illness for them… (this) has led to more cases in the younger age groups.”
Dr Subhash R. Salunke, advisor to the Maharashtra government on Covid-19, agreed with Guleria: “We are also witnessing a surge in infections among the younger population and it might soon become a national phenomenon.”
On whether the Covid-19 surge in Delhi is linked to a new variant, Guleria said: “We need more data to see an epistemological link with the various variants and the surge in cases”. But, he said, following Covid-appropriate behaviour would take care of any variant.
At Zee News, anchor Sudhir Chaudhary talked about “America’s failures” and its “double standards” as he claimed that the US produces reports against some countries and not others. This week, the US State Department released its latest report on human rights worldwide, which said the Indian government continues to pressurise media outlets that are critical of it.
Chaudhary said: “The US never condemned Israel’s invasion and military action in the West Bank and Gaza because of its close ties with the country.”
He also connected this with the recent incident of an Asian-American official condemning anti-Asian violence by removing his shirt to show his military scars at a board meeting in Ohio.
“The US suppresses these issues at home but always interferes with internal matters of other nations.”
Deepak Chaurasia on News Nation wanted to know “Why has the Bengal elections reached the point of gotras?”
“Mamata Banerjee spoke about her gotra yesterday, she is a Brahmin. But the question is, why did the flag-bearer of secularism — Mamata — have to announce her gotra and move towards soft Hindutva? Is it because of the Nandigram fight?” Chaurasia asked.
The anchor told viewers to vote their answer on the question: “Has it become a necessity of the secular brigade to shift towards soft Hindutva?”
“You write Shandilya in your name. Are you attacking Mamata because she is harming the BJP by playing the Hindu card?” Chaurasia asked Union minister Giriraj Singh Shandilya.
“I am happy that Didi has finally revealed her gotra — Shandilya — but it took her 10 years to do so. She could have told this when people of her gotra were beaten up with sticks by her own government during Durga Ma’s visarjan. Now all of a sudden, how will they start loving you?” Giriraj said.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.