Bend it like BJP’s primetime news warriors


shobha surendran

‘Why call comedians to comedy shows in TV, when these BJP leaders can put up a far better show?’

That is one of the social media trolls which have been doing the rounds about BJP leaders in Kerala whose histrionics on primetime TV news debates have spawned an avalanche of memes and trolls. Satire-happy social media users attest that the primetime news debates involving BJP leaders are stress-busters, which have started shaping the social media’s political satire zeitgeist. Will they soon be Kerala’s answer to America’s Comedy Central, competing with any comedy programme worth the salt?

The average Malayalee is touted as too political. He can leave his head un-marinated with his daily dose of coconut oil, but he cannot live without the daily dose of news. The state has seen the birth of a plethora of television channels – a considerable of them dish out full-time news – pandering to the Malayalee’s news-hungry predilections. Yes, he is spoilt for choices with a choice of TV new channels that fit into all ideological combinations: left, right, extreme right, centre, and centre-left. Those animated discussions on politics that used to enliven that nondescript village tea shop have shifted to living rooms when the evening news debates come alive.

And in this ephemera of one-hour-long TV news debates, any publicity is free publicity, and yes good publicity, too. These nocturnal news debates give the political novices their one-way ticket to instant political gratification and mass recognition. And, none other than the BJP and its ‘leaders’ have benefited immensely from this primetime glory. What would have been quite unthinkable a decade ago – mass popularity and political stardom – is a reality for many primetime warriors of the BJP today without contesting or winning even in a village, all thanks to the proliferation of TV news. Kerala’s television news channels have helped them attain instant limelight by circumventing the age-old entry barriers to reach a certain level of mass acceptability without having to go through the pains of building a political career by way of years-long grass-root-level works.

So a party with little to boast politically – the BJP continues to be a political pariah in the state with the party just scoring its first lone MLA in the last assembly elections – gets equal treatment and mainstream status like the Communists and the Congress, all because of the primetime news. And the state BJP ‘leaders’, with little political pedigree or hands-on experience to boot, should be thankful to these TV channels for elevating their position from near-anonymity into the mainstream. If Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen were to pay a part of their royalty to the fatwa-happy nutty Mullahs for elevating their literary careers to lofty planes, same way the Kerala unit of BJP owes a lot to the TV news channels.

BJP’s primetime news warriors can amuse you, flummox you and give you ponder-worthy novel insights as they go on dishing out nocturnal nostrums and glib answers to knotty problems. They thrive on churning out absurdities, didn’t-that-Mulla-rape kind of obtuse whataboutery, outright lies, and blinkered retorts on Hindu nationalism that often vacillate between inanity and profanity. And what gets drowned in the cacophony of shrill rhetoric and bigotry is the fast-shrinking room for sanity and common sense. Sane arguments and decent debates be damned!

Here are some of the brain-stimulating nuggets that can be inducted into BJP’s Prime Time Hall of Brilliance. In a news debate on beef ban, you had a BJP primetime warrior making the bizarre claim that camel meat is banned in Gulf countries; his insinuation was that camel is considered a holy animal in the Gulf region like cow is in India! The social media has since then knighted him with Ottakam, the Malayalam for camel, in reverence to his intelligence mastery. Another primetime warrior repeated the nonsense after his north Indian counterpart that cow emits oxygen! In another TV discussion on Deendayal Upadhyaya, the same cow-oxygen-maverick was seen saying that VD Savarkar sent apology letters six times to the British so that he could come out of the jail and fight against the British for India’s freedom! The news anchor had a hard time suppressing the bouts of laughter. She immediately apologized for laughing live.

In the latest discussion on Narendra Modi’s now-controversial accusation that no Congress leaders visited Bhagat Singh in jail, another primetime news warrior, known for her vitriolic nature, had a wonderful interpretation to make. She argued, exuding copious amount of conviction and certainty, that PM meant to say nobody visited Bhagat Singh after he became ‘shaheed’ (martyr). She has since been knighted ‘Shaheed’ by the social media.

Astonishingly enough, warriors like these continue to serenade the primetime moments with their august presence as before. What makes them the darlings of the TV channels? Oh, don’t ask us, how can we not give due representation to the ruling national party?

When confronted with truths, these primetime warriors use their time-tested modus operandi of showing utter contempt or shouting the other panelists down with aggression and ad hominem attacks. Did they copy from the playbooks of BJP’s national-level leaders or is it the other way around? The head of state BJP recently assured journalists that he would check the instances where his colleagues have been uttering nonsense during TV discussions. Now, let’s wait for an enquiry commission!

So, how do they get away with it? What explains this method to such commonsense-defying nightly madness? Indeed, the BJP as a party stands to gain by this perverse and sustained emission of primetime lies and misinterpretations of facts. And it is a fact that they bask even in the subsequent social media trolls and ridiculing, because that too is a form of publicity! Probably, by uttering hogwash on TV they may be seeking to gain legitimacy to their brand of hatred politics and make their self-delusional followers continue to live in their own self-delusional cocoons. Comedy may just be an unwitting byproduct of this larger game plan. While this comedy is enjoyable for social media users, it is a tragedy for democracy and the culture of sensible debates.

(The write is a Mumbai-based journalist)



Support Countercurrents

Countercurrents is answerable only to our readers. Support honest journalism because we have no PLANET B.
Become a Patron at Patreon

Join Our Newsletter


Join our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Get CounterCurrents updates on our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Related Posts

Join Our Newsletter

Annual Subscription

Join Countercurrents Annual Fund Raising Campaign and help us

Latest News