Of late participants in prime time TV debates have increased. All put together they go right up to eight on the screen, and some more join for special effects either at the studio, or any other location. Anticipating the hot intensity of the ensuing debate. I often find participants with parched throats. Some sipping water, which I wouldn’t dare to call it Vodka. In many ways Prime Time TV debates have replaced entertainment channels. As every individual is now eager to understand what is going on in the country. Also, news for many has become entertainment. Where, these debates are better understood both by literates and even the illiterates, unlike newspapers and magazines.
In the recent, prime time TV debates have become more cut throat, because many political parties are competing in the same political space, and have therefore become a multiparty affair. In any debate we now find time 3-4 party spokespersons. Most prime time debates start around 9 pm when office goers return from office after a hectic day’s of work, is when they want to analyse and know what all has gone right and what all has gone wrong in the country.
And, how cleverly or daringly their elected representatives from Karnataka and Telangana are hoodwinking the voters by going on a foreign junket. To how shrewdly BJP government is keeping the TRAI discussion paper alive, because Modi has to return election favours to Corporates. Or how Congress’s Anand Sharma in his own arrogant manner is spiking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, because he said something awkward in Canada about the country, but preferred to remain quiet when the scams were being committed by Congress under his own UPA regime. As if that didn’t spoil the country’s reputation. Or how PDP is kowtowing with separatists and how deeply is Mamta Banerjee involved in Sarada Chit scam and how J Jayalalita’s case on disproportionate asset is progressing. Or how Srinivasan is fighting his BCCI battle. The list goes on and on and on.
But the debate becomes daggers drawn when one spokesperson of a party criticizes the party supremo of another party, such as Narendra Modi, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Mulayam Singh, Akhilesh Yadav, Mamta Banerjee or for that matter any party’s top boss. The defending spokesperson as if goes into a tizzy and loses his cool as if they are about to lose their jobs and are being monitored by party bosses, debate to debate and channel to channel.
So, in all of this. There is but another way of viewing these TV debates, which I find is more gauging, engaging, absorbing, interesting and even revealing on a lighter note. And, that is when the anchor or a panel participant, like a party spokesperson or a journalist or even a lawyer or anyone else is making a point, don’t concentrate on that person visually. Just keep hearing him and look in the eye of the person he or she is attacking, and also take a quick glance at others in the panel, and you’ll find the debate to be much more interesting and revealing. For example, let’s take one prime TV channel ‘Timesnow.’
Where, when, Arnab Goswami anchor of ‘Timesnow’ taunts on, Azam Khan’s buffaloes getting lost and police personnel being suspended. One should notice the taut and staring expression of Gaurav Bhatia, spokesperson of Samajwadi Party. As if wanting to say, ‘if stares could kill Arnab you would have been dead by now.’ And in the adjacent box Sanjay Jha of Congress with a smug on his face and in extreme silence and patience as if is willfully intending to say, ‘That’s a good one Arnab.’ And Sambit Patra in a fizz and gulping down, ’Arrey maza aa gaya.’
Yesterday, when Narsimha Rao, the BJP spokesperson was being cornered by Arnab for likely six fold increase in mobile NET tariff by corporates. I was watching AAP spokesperson Somnath Bharti whose expression, as if said, ‘Dear Arnab you have made AAPs job easier.’
And, in several land bill debates. The expression and eye movements of many Congress spokespersons only said, ‘Thank you Modi ji, you have once again made us relevant and greater thanks to Arnab for getting us to limelight.’
But, there is a converse also. With Nepal tragedy, did AAP get off the hook on the tragic death of Gajendra Singh. Perhaps, Arnab will have to invite Kejriwal or Ashutosh or Raghav of AAP along with spokespersons of other parties and some journalists and lawyers for the viewers to gauge and find it out.