fortnight, two mainstream news items overshadowed, albeit
temporarily, such major regional events as the Punjab State
Assembly Election scenario and the Viraasat-e-Khalsa complexís
First was the
assault on Sharad Pawar on November 24. Apart from the usual
video clips, there were comments that were condemnatory of the
incident. However, mercifully, news channels did not play up the
incident unduly and give undue boost to a lunaticís quest for
cheap, instant "fame" for which physical assaults on
important people is now apparently becoming a preferred mode,
remember Jarnail Singh?
Pannu pointed out in DDJís morning show Khaas Khabar Ek
Nazar on November 25, "Let us not forget that we
are a democracy and there are very effective, constitutional
methods for registering our ire against governmentís policies
The second news
item was about the impasse in Parliament ó something that has
now become a regular feature of its functioning. Although both
corruption and inflation are important issues, our opposition
parties forget that legislation and governance cannot be
important bills on such important matters as land acquisition,
resettlement and rehabilitation, judicial accountability; Lokpal,
etc are still awaiting discussion and clearance.
Most channels gave a live telecast of the entire inaugural proceedings of Viraasat-e-Khalsa complex
Tribune photo: S. Chandan
However, the Khaas
Khabar episode will remain etched on oneís mindscape for
Pannuís comparison of the black money controversy with camelís
lower lip. "As camelsí lips droop but never fall, so
would the black money conundrum hang on the parliamentary
horizon without ever precipitating`85it comes in handy for
disrupting the parliamentís work."
coverage of regional events was not exactly blacked out. Zee
Punjabi and PTC News telecast programmes on the
Viraasat-e-Khalsa. The former concentrated on presenting an
encapsulated history of Sikhs, especially the gurdwaras of
historical importance, while the latter.
As is the
practice with the SAD-organised events, telecast by PTC News, as
much was said about the eventís actual significance as about
the Ďgreatnessí of the Chief Minister of Punjab, who was
presiding over the proceedings. Again, on November 29, it
telecast the observation of Ghallughara Day under the SGPC/SAD
aegis, wherein less was said of the dayís significance and
more of Badalís achievements. Poll politics reigned supreme.
Punjab Assembly Elections have energised the political scenario.
Apart from the usual mergers and break-ups of political factions
and the aaya-ram-gaya-ram syndrome, the Dalit factor
found resonance in some talk shows. Dalits form 27 per cent of
Punjabís population. This translates into a formidable
political factor in the highly stratified Punjabi polity. Khabarsaar
took stock of the recent upsurge in the activities of the
Ramdasia sect that can have long-term influence on the power
equations in Punjab. Subsequently, on November 23, the same talk
show discussed whether campaigns for the forthcoming elections
should be issue-based or allegations-based.
As a panelist
pointed out, there is not much to choose between the Congress
and the SAD-BJP as far as their precepts and practices are
concerned. Both the political rivals have substantial number of
the corrupt and the criminal in their ranks.
Both try to
obfuscate the real issues that affect the common Punjabi and try
to rely on emotive issues to score brownie points with their
respective vote banks. In fact, the Congress and Akali panelists
did not desist from resorting to fiery rhetoric even during the
However, both were quite
dismissive about the Manpreet Badal factor although they seemed
to acknowledge that the anti-corruption campaign by Anna Hazare
has induced the common man to become more demanding vis-`E0-vis
probity in politics. Nonetheless, each panelist asserted that
his party was cleaner than of the otherís. How would this
detergent-ad style debate affect the votersí choice? Let us
wait and watch.