New Delhi: As expected, most news channels focused their Wednesday prime time segment on the razing of actor Kangana Ranaut’s Mumbai office by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for alleged “violations”, before the Bombay High Court stayed the demolition. However, Republic TV spoke of its own reporters in Mumbai being sent to police custody, while NDTV India focused on job losses—yet again.
On CNN-News 18, anchor Maha Siddiqui sarcastically pointed out, “There are 90,00 illegal structures. Is the BMC so efficient that they are looking at all these 90,000 structures today?”
Author and columnist Sreemoyee Kundu concurred: “I do feel this is political vendetta because if there are so many illegal structures, then why are you gunning (for) her office and why couldn’t you wait till she got back?”
BJP Mumbai Vice President Hitesh Jain said, “In 2018, there was a notice that was issued to Kangana regarding some unauthorised violation, they could have taken action then or in 2019 but they demolished it when she took a stand.”
Aaj Tak‘s Rohit Sardana chose a rather more dramatic route when he declaimed, “Makaan par bulldozer, zabaan kaise rokoge?” (You can bulldoze the building but how will you drown out the voice?)
Vikram Singh Yadav, Shiv Sena leader, defended the BMC’s action: “First Kangana should have looked at her own illegal construction before questioning the government. When illegal constructions are demolished in slum areas, then nobody from Bollywood or political parties come to their defence, then why are they objecting now?”
News Nation looked at the demolition from an entirely different angle — whether the BMC is scared of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. “The BMC has not dared to demolish the mosque made inside Dawood Ibrahim’s last place of living in Mumbai”, said anchor Deepak Chaurasia, in what can best be described as high-decibel gymnastics.
“What is this hypocrisy of BMC and Maharashtra government?”, he continued, demanding an apology from Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, who has been at the forefront of the verbal battle with Ranaut.
Republic TV‘s Arnab Goswami avoided Bollywood for one evening; instead, he concentrated on the channel’s reporters being taken into police custody by the “dictatorial” Maharashtra government. He explained how his journalists were following an important lead in Karjat when, “Viewers, you will be shocked. They were thrown into jail for four days for simply making an enquiry.”
“Those who are trying to stop our coverage, calling it a media trial… Nobody can snatch away our rights under 19(1)(A). I am also delighted to share with you that the News Broadcasters Federation is going to the court… We don’t need the Lutyens Media, do we Shazia?” he asked of the BJP’s Shazia Ilmi.
She responded, “Republic has the support of scores and scores of Indian citizens. This is blatantly unfair and unconstitutional.”
And on NDTV India, Ravish Kumar stayed away from all of this to focus on the fact that in just July and August, around 81 lakh salaried people lost their jobs.
“Due to the loss of jobs, lower middle-class people are forced to withdraw money from the Employees Provident Fund. During the lockdown, post 1 April, around 94.41 lakh people withdrew Rs 35,445 crore from their EPF accounts”, Kumar noted.
“To hide these issues, a different kind of drama is being played on TV news channels. Various characters are being brought. It is your (the viewers’) test of morality”, said Kumar. Touché.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.
You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.
We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And have just turned three.
At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is.
This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it.
If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous and questioning journalism. Please click on the link below. Your support will define ThePrint’s future.