“Now, let’s be very clear here tonight,” began Arnab Goswami, borrowing a line much favoured by Sunita Narain in her occasional assaults on colas and scooters. “Asaduddin Owaisi: yet another attack, and once again the hand of the Indian Mujahideen. Do you think now that a massive nationwide crackdown on the IM (a), all the supporters of the IM (b), all the sleeper cells of the IM (c), is absolutely necessary as an immediate countermeasure to make sure that this terror group is put in its place?” Op Goswami had begun again.
But he almost met his match in Owaisi: “What do you mean by ‘nationwide crackdown’? Does Arnab Goswami know the hideouts of IM? Second, you use the term ‘combing operation’, do you mean that national agencies…” With quiet dignity, Goswami protested: “You are trying to put lexicon I have not used (sic).” “Do you want me to read out the text message which your colleague sent me, which had this term?” Owaisi dared him. “Are you responding to me or to a text message? Are you avoiding the subject, Mr Owaisi?” Goswami dared back. Cravenly, Owaisi conceded that anchors have the right to change the subject.
This week, Owaisi was not the only political figure “putting lexicon”. Narendra Modi was soundly derided by Nitish Kumar for arrant historical revisionism. He inaugurated his party’s chintan shivir at Rajgir with pointed references to the history of the region, “the land of tap, sadhna and gyan”. He invoked Mahavira, the Buddha and Nanak, who had journeyed through those parts. He neglected to mention Gumnami Baba, who must have been there, too. In north India, as everyone knows, the man was everywhere. Maybe he is still everywhere.
NDTV had almost the entire footage of Kumar’s address, an honour which channels reserve only for Modi. Perhaps, because the extended lesson in the history of Bihar in general and the old capital of Rajgir in particular was a buildup to a historic trashing of Modi. The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate’s core feature is his iron confidence, which is why he is going to such lengths to appropriate Iron Man Sardar Patel, and why the news media are mad about the story. For the leader of a party which claims to have a unique understanding of India’s historical identity, a leader whose campaign hinges on inspiring confidence, to be exposed as ignorant about elementary ancient