TV is obsessed with the endless NaMo-RaGa tournament, and more taken with the former than the latter. It’s been like that from Modi’s speech at the Shri Ram College of Commerce in February, where the media, in a deep hypnotic spell, transmogrified a student body address into a campaign kickoff. And it’s turning into a regular mania now. Yesterday, ABP TV provided a ball-by-ball commentary of Modi and Rajnath Singh’s rally at Jhansi. Even before he arrived, the ticker was counting down: Narendra Modi will be here soon, Rajnath to speak in 10 minutes, and more in that vein. With the media providing so much promotional space, who needs a campaign?
It takes something fairly momentous to divert the camera from this free show. This week, sadly, it was the passing of Manna Dey. Earlier, a cyclone and the gold rush in Unnao had performed this public service. Speaking of which, I am compelled to abandon my earlier stand on Shobhan Sarkar, the babaji whose gilded dream is turning into a nightmare with cases being filed against him. While he should not have promoted superstition and wasted the time and resources of the government and hapless archaeologists, a man who can rattle Modi, the media’s candidate, by using the media itself, will bear watching.
And, of course, there was the elephant in the room which the privately owned channels studiously ignored. It was left to Rajya Sabha TV to tell the world about the media story which was setting Twitter afire the change of guard at The Hindu as the Kasturi family resumed control, abruptly terminating a 20-month experiment with professional journalistic management. RSTV’s Big Picture had four media professionals on the panel S Nihal Singh, Rahul Dev, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and Dilip Cherian. While RSTV is charting an interesting independent course, neither boringly sarkari nor obnoxiously shrill like privately owned channels, it often drops a clue to let you know that finally, it is government. In this case, each panellist had his professional description preceded by the words “senior” or “veteran”. Words which became irrelevant about the time when Zanjeer, Nixon and The Dark Side of the Moon were big hits.