New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday declined to stay the electoral bond scheme but directed all parties to submit their bond details to the Election Commission. With BJP receiving a majority of such bonds in the recent past, Congress leaders quipped that its donors would now dry up.
Union minister Maneka Gandhi cautioned a gathering of Muslims in Sultanpur to vote for her or to not come to her and expect work: “…agar meri jeet musalmanon kay bina hogi, toh mujhey bahut achcha nahin lagega … phir dil khatta ho jata hai … phir jab Musalman aata hai kaam kay liye, phir main sochti hoon, rehnay hi do, kya fark padta hai …” (if my win were to happen without Muslims, I would not feel too good… it would sour the relationship… if a Muslim would then come to me for work, I would think let it be, what difference does it make).
How did the media report these stories?
With headlines like “Electoral bonds would stay”, “SC: Give funding details to EC by May 30” and “EC data: BJP got 95% of poll bond funds”, the channel first laid out the details of the case.
It also showed how the Congress reacted by saying “electoral donors will dry up now” and what BSP supremo Mayawati called it, “Another setback for government”.
Anchor Nidhi Razdan said the EC would now know “who is paying political parties, where their money is coming from”.
BJP’s Bhaskar Ghosh quoted the Attorney General’s submission to say “transparency cannot be the mantra and donors identity should be kept secret”. He said the parties were “accountable to EC and banks, which keep track of the money flow”.
At this, Razdan asked, “Why be accountable only to EC and not the voters?”
Former legal adviser to EC, S.K. Mendiratta, said after the electoral bond scheme was introduced in 2017, the Commission “rightly felt it would bring more opacity to fund raising by political parties. Previously every party had to disclose the funding to EC in their annual report. But the law was amended and this took the electoral bonds out of the ambit of disclosure”.
Razdan said it is a step forward towards transparency as “EC would know who the donors are”.
But Mendiratta said: “EC is not the proper forum for disclosure, it is the voters who should know whose money is being spent by the political parties”.
Channel editor Navika Kumar conducted the “National debate from Puri” in Odisha. Headlines like “Anti-Modiism binding opposition” and “Polarisation or Parivartan” provided the backdrop to the discussion.
Congress spokesperson Sucharita Mohanty admitted her party had lost ground in the state due to “some lapses in state leadership”.
Pinaki Misra of the Biju Janata Dal said the BJP would find it difficult to make deep inroads into the state. “If they have got a good machinery – why are a third of their candidates all BJD rejects?”
Sambit Patra of the BJP responded, saying that by Mohanty’s own admission, the Congress is in a shambles in Odisha. He insisted that it is the BJD which is trying to polarise the election to get these votes.
Misra countered this saying: “While BJP gives the Tripura analogy, former CM Manik Sarkar did not lose a percentage of vote – it stood at 45% – but the BJP harvested the Congress vote.” Likewise, he said, it was trying to get into this segment in Odisha through its divisive statements.
With #WhoUsedArmy, the channel took up the issue of over 150 veterans, including eight former service chiefs, writing to President Ram Nath Kovind to intervene and stop the ‘politicisation’ of the armed forces during the ongoing elections.
The channel noted that some of the officers whose names were mentioned denied having signed it. These included former Air Marshal N.C. Suri and former General S.F. Rodrigues.
Incidentally, Air Vice Marshal (Retd.) Kapil Kak had stated that the letter was sent by email and endorsement was also received over it.
Anchor Arnab Goswami tried to attack the Congress over its stand on the Army and for having called General Bipin Rawat “sadak ka gunda” (roadside hoodlum). The statement was issued by former Delhi MP Sandeep Dikshit but was later withdrawn.
Sudhanshu Trivedi of the BJP attacked the Congress for calling the forces names and distrusting their operations.
Goswami also tried to drag in politician-journalist Ashutosh into the controversy, but he stayed away, saying: “It was good entertainment. I thought it would be a serious debate – but it has become a fake debate. Your channel has decided to insult 153 defence personnel out of 157 – so it is better to keep quiet on your channel.” Goswami was forced to shift to other panelists.
On this channel too there was an ungainly confrontation between anchor Sumit Awasthi and lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi of the Congress. With no other panellists on the show, it dragged on for quite some time.
The programme through the headline, “Rafale par galat bolkar mushkil main Rahul?” (Rahul in trouble over wrong statement on Rafale), took the peg that Rahul Gandhi committed contempt of court by responding to the Supreme Court’s Rafale order.
He was shown saying: “SC nay clear kar diya hai ki chowkidar ji nay chori karvayi hai” (SC has made it clear that the chowkidar got the theft committed).
Awasthi asked Singhvi when will Gandhi issue an apology. Singhvi told Awasthi “We have had that text for two days – it is a matter of our interpretation. You will see how we will defend on Monday.” He also told the journalist: “You are not a representative of the people, you are only putting forth a point of view.”
India Today TV
Rajdeep Sardesai provided the “Zaika of Kashmir politics” by travelling to the state. The programme discussed the “Fight over Article 370” and “Kashmir and the Modi factor”.
In Srinagar, Sardesai first visited the residence of Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference leader, Sajjad Lone. Noting the “heavy security outside”, he told Lone, “You are a marked man”.
The reference was also to how political observers see Lone as a proxy for BJP. “You are their man in the Valley?” Sardesai asked him.
“You are obsessed with it, what can I do?” replied Lone. He recalled how his father and he have over the last several decades opposed the two prominent families of the state – the Abdullahs and the Muftis. “They used to rig the election – they pushed people towards the separatist faction,” he charged.
Lone said, “Journalists have written me off, but I am fighting it out – giving them competition in all the three seats. So they call me a proxy. But I am a third force and we will get the highest number of votes in the Valley”.
He cautioned that Article 370 and 35A should not be tinkered with. Repealing Article 370, he said, would be a “post-dated cheque for secession – it is an incitement”.
Sardesai also met Shah Faesal, the IAS officer who left his cushy job to enter politics and has started the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement to break the status quo. On his decision: Faesal said: “It has been time for intense education for me, lot of interaction with people – I am calling it a listening project”.
Though not contesting the Lok Sabha polls, Faesal said he was hopeful of taking on the NC and PDP in future. “It is the hope that sustains us and over the last two months there has been unprecedented enthusiasm and love from the field.”
Anchor Ravish Kumar travelled to the native Alauli village of Lok Janshakti Party leader and union minister Ram Vilas Paswan in Khagaria district of of Bihar. He interacted with villagers near a campaign meeting.
The residents complained about how a college located close to the site was not allowed to function by the Paswan family. One resident charged, “Paswan closed the college so that locals do not become aware – and keep voting for him.”
He said people from the village had donated 22 acres of land for the college but could not keep it functioning for long in the absence of state support.
Another resident said there are three brothers in the Paswan family who are all leaders but the village continues to lag when it comes to development.
When Kumar asked why do they not keep the pressure up on the leaders, another resident said, “Hum banatay hain sir, par who vote le kar, jhansa de kar chale jaatay hain” (we do keep the pressure on, but after taking the vote and duping us, they go away).
The channel reported how Russia awarded PM Modi the Order of St Andrew the Apostle, its highest order. Anchor Sudhir Chaudhary claimed Indo-Russian ties have improved under Modi ever since the the first informal summit took place in Sochi in 2015.
“Has Putin accepted that the country’s next PM will be Modi”, was a headline which the channel had. It also insisted that under 66-year-old Vladimir Putin and 68-year-old Modi, the agenda for a new world order’ has been set.