Sanjay Jha

REVIEW: THE BUCK STOPS HERE

– By Sanjay Jha

HamaraCongress.com will provide you a regular review of India’s TV channels and print media , on their coverage, content and often overtly colorful assessment .

So here goes:

1) Barkha Dutt of NDTV seems to have hit the bull’s eye with The Buck Stops Here in the crucial 10 pm slot, although I wish they dropped that SMS poll bit; it’s too gimmicky. These polls are totally irrelevant unless viewers know the exact population size of the participants, which is never disclosed by any channel(obviously) . I expect CNN-IBNs Face The Nation to get a real run here, as Dutt makes her program hour long and judiciously blends a variety of content with interesting guests. A caveat; too many guests can spoil the broth , a lesson everyone can learn from Times Now.

2) With the Indian TV and print media having little political gossip to write about in the absence of Prakash Karat’s daily vacillations on every issue of the past government , trivial pursuits are in. The near-maddening coverage of BJPs shady shenanigans post-its disastrous “ chintan-baithak” are over. Mr LK Advani’s master performance ostensibly as the Iron Man of India deserving of an Oscar nomination has at last been well-exploded. Advani was, in fact, nothing more than an exaggerated creation of the saffron-brigade in the Indian media. But how long can you hope to camouflage your true colors and a bankrupt national agenda merely to pursue personal ambitions, Mr Advani ? Jaswant Singh and LKA may have washed their dirty khaki knickers in public, but they both swore by MA Jinnah’s secular credentials? Why the dramatic volt-face by these Hindutva champions? Simply, to embarrass the Congress party and attack the impeccable reputation of India’s singular statesman Jawaharlal Nehru, who students of political history will know better as India’s most secular, visionary and integrating leader. Just one question; why is the Indian media not investigating Mr Advani’s link or knowledge of the cash-for-votes scam? Did he really personally engineer it as alleged by his own party-men?

3) On The Buck Stops Here we had a lively exchange with my favorite Mani Shankar Aiyar , whose witticism and spontaneous sarcasm are legendary, putting the pompous Lord Meghnad Desai in his rightful place on the issue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s statue coming up in Mumbai. Desai chickened and used unparliamentary language ( whatever happened, Sir to Brit perfection and public etiquette???) in labeling Mani’s argument as “ nonsense” on private contributions for public statues. Barkha should have repudiated the Lord’s “ judgement” as it was in poor taste. Essentially the topic itself was flawed as it is ludicrous to compare Mayawati’s narcissistic frenzy with Shivaji’s inimitable valor. Like comparing apples and atom-bombs.
Lord Desai should know that today British Tourism makes money even on it’s much-maligned torture chambers, and England is relevant wholly on account of it’s imperial colonial dominance—–it’s history. Shivaji was an amazing braveheart and his intrepid adventures are inspirational. I was surprised Mani did not bring up British PM Gordon Brown and his cabinet’s household expense statements reimbursed by the British taxpayer, an embarrassing seedy scam in London.

4) I think Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari handled Karan Thapar ( CNBC) on the much overblown issue by the media of Shashi Tharoor and SM Krishna’s five-star stay with cool aplomb. Manish may have Arun Jaitley’s constant combative look about him but when he cracks that sporadic smile, it works big-time . Manish is tactfully intelligent and does not allow himself to be unduly provoked . He also challenges the anchor’s standard tactic of somehow summarizing things in their own words, frequently distorting the message itself. Tiwari, the ever-reliable Jayanti Natarajan and Abhsihek Manu Singhvi are doing an excellent job as Congress spokespeople.

5) Pranab Mukherjee was absolutely correct in asking his two senior colleagues to be essentially sensitive to public sentiments by asking them to move to more modest habitats as opposed to luxurious 5 star excesses. However, I wish Pranab Babu , who is a seasoned veteran whom we all respect, had not over-reacted on a public platform about SMK and Tharoor. It was a totally unwarranted controversy in the final analysis , the drought conditions and public perception issues notwithstanding. The Congress is genuinely following the “ aam aadmi” plank, so why should the private preferences of a few ministers suddenly overshadow the party’s image and make it appear unnecessarily vulnerable and defensive ? The matter should have been handled with quiet professional dexterity instead of allowing it to become a media witch-hunt.

Frankly, I expected more cerebral stuff from Indian Express; this seemed quite trite, to be honest.

6) Suhel Seth is fast becoming Delhi’s Shobha De of sorts. Ever since 26/11 we have seen the emergence of “ bits and pieces” experts ( borrowed from ODI cricket, I confess) who have a view on everything from swine flu , Sachin Tendulkar to stock markets. Seth is entertaining at best ( if you don’t take his self-pleasing grandiose quips seriously) and exasperating at worst . I saw him during the elections talking in a highly disparaging manner to Mani Shankar Aiyer and other politicians , and thought he was insufferably arrogant in his demeanor . Seth is a glib talker and a smooth operator with pro social networking skills who assiduously plays to his Page 3 gallery. It is to his remarkable credit that he has all of them—Times Now, CNN-IBN and NDTV eating out of his hands even as he dons a polo tee with his company logo on it.

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