#RamMandirBhoomiPujan: TV news anchors bow to Lord Modi

Virtual darshans, Ram Lalla, bhajans on air, even Anup Jalota: Indian TV news had it all.

WrittenBy:Ayan Sharma& Meghnad S
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The war cries of “mandir wahi banega'' have been satiated today as the bhoomi pujan ceremony of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya was organised with much pomp and ceremony. Prime minister Narendra Modi himself was invited by the Ram Temple Trust to attend the event and be a part of the rituals that mark the start of the construction of the grand temple.

To help out during this historic event, our TV news channels have been on a bhakti overdrive since this morning. And, of course, they raked in some good old ad money on the side.

Here are some of the highlights of what happened.

Zee News slipped into full astha channel mode and hired singer Anuradha Paudwal to give us the “news”.

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Here's how the programming went. Anuradha sang a bhajan while the anchor watched, mesmerised, shaking her head and dripping with Ram bhakti. This was followed by imagery of Ram Lalla with some politicians thrown in just for fun. After the song ended, the anchor praised Ram and spoke a little about this historic occasion being witnessed. Then Anuradha sang another bhajan. Zee News” was clearly milking its agreement with her to the fullest extent.

Meanwhile, Aaj Tak also decided to go the astha way and hired singer Anup Jalota. They paid special attention to Ram Lalla imagery while Jalota, squeezed into a tiny box in the corner, sang a bhajan.

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And of course, there were ads and a photo of Modi thrown in for good effect. They clearly had their priorities right. Learn something from Aaj Tak, Zee News walo.

At one point, Aaj Tak’s anchor said, “Sakshaat Saraswati Pradhan Mantri ke vaani par baithi hogi. Unki manokamna poori ho gayi hai.” Goddess Saraswati herself must be sitting on the prime minister’s tongue. His longtime aspiration is being completed today.

Their coverage was replete with 3D images of the temple complex with Modi praying to it. And Anup Jalota, of course, who would randomly pop up.

On India Today, Gaurav Sawant brought intense bhakti feels. “Ram's city of Ayodhya is Modi-fied today,” he said. “Not surprising that after Lord Ram, it is posters of Modi that are all over Ayodhya.”

A random seer then proceeded to sing a song (the channel simply identified him as “Seer”) with the headlines “PM Leads a Billion in Prayers” and “Ram Mandir Rises”. Clearly a throwback to Dark Knight Rises, we think.

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India Today even showed old Newstrack footage of the demolition-event-that-must-not-be-named and carefully highlighted Modi, just in case you forgot that he was also present during that unmentionable event.

Gaurav Sawant said helpfully, “Let me describe the images to our viewers. These are spectacular images. Modi was key in the implementation of this project.”

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They even had a nice little segment of kids performing on a stage in Ayodhya. Without masks or social distancing, we might add, during a pandemic. Only the person playing Hanuman was compelled to wear a mask. Or was he?

But let’s not nitpick too much, because God is protecting us all on this holy occasion.

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India Today’s Pooja Shaili even gave the viewers a nice “floor by floor” 3D tour of the upcoming Ram Mandir. An excellent combination of modern technology, science and religion.

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Who said they can’t coexist?

India TV spent a lot of the morning giving viewers a play-by-play of Modi’s progress from Delhi to Ayodhya. They even got hold of an EXCLUSIVE image.

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*cough* exclusive *cough*

The anchor said a billion times that Modi wore a dhoti kurta, which is the required attire during a Hindu puja. Then there was also intense discussion about which entrance Modi would take to enter the temple!

“Will he climb the stairs which commoners use or will he use a VIP entrance?” the anchor asked breathlessly. So much mystery and intrigue, too much to handle.

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India TV brought in a random acharya to answer a very important question that was completely non-political, by the way: “Why have all other prime ministers been avoiding going to Ayodhya and Ram Janmabhoomi?”The acharya responded, “It’s because they’re all secular and fake. PM Modi is the only PM in India who is a Ram bhakt. PM Modi is not only India’s rajneta but the world’s rajneta

You got that right, acharyaji. We are with you on this one.

Meanwhile, the Republic group of channels reposed all their faith with the almighty, as evidenced by this group of crack reporters who weren’t wearing masks.

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Even this Hanuman, spotted with Modiji’s face plastered to his chest, seemed to wear a mask, not leaving his life to divine intervention. Not like Republic.

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It rained for a bit in Ayodhya but even that got the Republic folks excited. “Jamajam baarish, Indra Devta ki saugat!” It’s raining heavily, Lord Indra has blessed us, as the anchor hollered.

ABP News instructed their viewers to do virtual darshan to images of the Ram Lalla idol on screen. This darshan was accompanied by ads for masala, of course.

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When not conducting virtual darshans, the channel cut to its reporter, who was pointing at a motorcade from the roadside and screaming, “Ye dekhiye Pradhan mantri ki kaafila nikal rahi hain. Pradhan mantri Land Rover me baithe huye jaa rahe, ye dekhiye.” See the Prime Minister’s motorcade is leaving, he’s sitting in his Land Rover, see!

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Bohut hi aham pal hain, bohut hi bhaavuk pal hain,” the reporter continued, his voice brimming with emotion. “Pradhan Mantri Modi ji, ek aam Bharatiya hone ke naate, 29 saal ki apeksha ke baad yaha pahuche hain. Ab saare raaste khul gaye hain aur Modi ji bhumi pujan ke liye aa gaye hain.” This is a very important, very emotional moment. PM Modi has reached Ayodhya as a common man, after waiting for 29 years. Not all the roads have been cleared for the groundbreaking ceremony and PM Modi is here to do it.

As a bonus, the anchor offered viewers insight into Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, such as the fact that he got “very emotional” after the Supreme Court judgement in the case and cried.

Times Now took their “news” to the next level today with Navika Kumar and Rahul Shivshankar, or RSS, hosting a panel together. RSS kept blaming the “Left” for not being happy about the entire thing. “A lot of people have built their careers on the communal nature of this,” he said. “Left propaganda has been fed to us, Navika.”

Navika nodded in agreement and turned to her star panelist, Subramnian Swamy. She asked pointedly, “Is secularism biased in favor of minorities?” Swamy smiled at her warmly and responded, “The word ‘secularism’ wasn’t there in the Constitution...It’s illegal and I will challenge it one day. Please don’t bring that word into the debate.”

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She turned to another panelist, a pandit who had set the auspicious day for this glorious event, and asked, “What kind of threats have you received?” Her attempts to elicit a controversial answer tanked though, because panditji said, “Please let’s not talk about threats, it’s a magal muhurta (auspicious moment).”

RSS wouldn’t let go. There was something here which was “news”-worthy and it must be extracted, like sweet nectar from a honeycomb. “Was the muhurta decided because Article 370 was abolished today?” asked RSS. Panditji stuck to his guns, though: “It’s a mangal awsar, 130 crore people are watching. I don’t think it’s a good idea to comment on this today. Our complete mind should be on this event.”

Good going, panditji. Very proud.

RSS clearly interpreted this differently, because he was like, “That settles the debate!” And Navika agreed, “Absolutely. Jai Shri Ram

The BJP’s Sambit Patra seemed very amused by this turn of events.

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As a bonus, Navika even sang during the segment. Perhaps Jalota or Paudwal were unavailable.

Navika said, "We must acknowledge the struggle that he (PM Modi) has gone through. The entire andolan. Thirty years is a long time."

Essentially, she was pointing out how PM Modi “worked hard” to not go to Ayodhya for 30 years. Takes a lot of courage, that act. RSS chipped in with some personal anguish, “Navika, it hurts to see barricades. Ram Lalla is trapped in this tarpaulin. It hurts to see it.”

Meanwhile, on NDTV 24x7, Alok Pandey remarked that social distancing has taken a backseat in Ayodhya. “Though CM Yogi Adityanath appealed to everyone to stay at home and watch the programme on TV, that is not being seen here,” he said. “People do get enthusiastic and that’s why they have come out and gathered in large numbers. When I asked one of the people I was talking to about following social distancing norms, he said, ‘Bhagwan bacha lenge. God will save me’.”

Alok added, “But how will God save you? This is really worrying.”

Worrying? What’s worrying about this? Nonsense. Look at the happiness on these faces as the greatest event in human history unfolded before our eyes.

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Republic Bharat perfectly summed up the entire event.

Their segment was called “Ram Aur Rashtra” and “Modi ke Ram”, because in 21st century YOLO New India, God iz belong to us.

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Also see
article imageHow TV news media fed into the Ayodhya frenzy
article imageAyodhya’s TV sadhus: Meet the Hindu priests you always see yelling on primetime shows


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