Rahul vs Modi: Mind your media manners

Written by Shailaja Bajpai | Updated: Oct 3 2013, 20:31pm hrs
Here is some unsolicited advice on media manners, sorry media matters, offered with humble feeling (thank you, prime minister) to the three leading politicians of the moment: Rahul Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi.

Rahul Gandhi, please dont barge into other peoples press conferences its downright rude hold your own.

Narendra Modi, please remember that at your election rallies (broadcast live to the entire nation via TV news) there are many dehaati aurats who will be insulted because you felt we should all be outraged by the alleged insulting reference by Pakistans PM to Indias PM as a village woman. Such remarks may cost you a few (million) dehaati votes. Also, it might be wise to avoid throwaway rhetorical lines such as, This nation of 1.2 billion will not tolerate its prime ministers insult (or words to that effect), because you sound like an imitation of Arnab Goswami and you might find that comparison insulting.

Manmohan Singh, please dont expect us to read your mind, we would need to read your lips, hear you speak as you did to the media on your journey back to India from the US on Tuesday. More than Rahul Gandhi, you need to hold press briefings; and much more than Narendra Modi, you need to address the public, address all the scams, the cans of worms that almost daily tumble out of the governments kitchen cabinet and corridors of power.

If you can talk to the people in the same composed and collected way you did to the media on the flight home, you will do yourself and the Congress a big favour. Modi is fiery and his passion is being fanned across the nation by live TV coverage of every breath he takes. You are a cool customer who needs to lower the temperature in what is already a high-voltage election campaign.

Even as Modis every move is faithfully followed by TV news, we see little of speeches by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, even on the few occasions that she makes them her speech in Mandya, Karnataka (remote as it is) didnt receive much coverage, despite its defence of a beleaguered PM.

Its been a humdinger of a week. It began with Rahul Gs nonsensical outburst and will end with better sense prevailing in the government (or so TV news reported on Wednesday afternoon) on the ordinance on convicted lawmakers. Then came Modis Delhi rally and the spectre of the dehaati aurat, who did or did not make an appearance in Nawaz Sharifs off the record meeting with a few journalists. Everyone was confused in the TV studios (so what else is new or news).

Next, Lalu Prasad made a guest appearance on TV lately, weve seen very little of him making his way into jail. Lalu ka the end asked IBN-7. Headlines Today had a delightful spoof on the RJD supremo waving a red rag at a buffalo who butted him behind bars. Meanwhile, The Week That Wasnt (CNN-IBN) had a priceless episode on a parliamentary session where MPs wanted a bill/ ordinance to ensure parliamentarians would never be disqualified the Meira Kumar impersonation was spot on.

Once Laluji went into jail, the Hindi news channels lost interest in him. Instead, they continued their pursuit of Asaram Bapu as his jail stay was extended to October 11. On Tuesday night, while other news channels telecast the PMs press briefing, India TV, India News, Zee News chose to discuss Asaram Bapu, offering us footage of the self-styled godman prancing around in a trance dance. Why this magnificent obsession with old white beard

Zee News seems to like jail-breaking news: Tuesday, it had Sanjay Dutts furlough and how much it meant for him and his wife Manyata: what are his plans for the next 14 days, the channel asked nobody in particular.

One host at Miss World 2013 (Zee Caf) asked the newly crowned Miss World questions she hardly knew how to answer. No sooner had Miss Philippines-Miss World been crowned and seated upon the throne that the lady began with standard TV questions addressed to victims of bomb attacks, earthquakes and successful people, alike: what does it feel like, how do you feel As Miss World stuttered and stumbled in her replies, her tormentor went one sadistic step further: what is your message to the boys and girls out there I mean, really.

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