It’s a rarity to see Indian TV news anchors lend a patient ear to their guest, much less be stumped into silence. But that is just what happened last night on Times Now, where the perpetually haranguing Navika Kumar appeared lost for words as Omar Abdullah shredded her defence of the Modi government’s removal of Kashmir’s residual autonomy on August 5, 2019.
Navika was interviewing the former J&K chief minister on her show Frankly Speaking ahead of the second anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370. When Omar argued that the move hadn’t done Kashmir any good, Navika cuttingly asked whether he expected the damage of “70 years” – presumably wrought by those who ruled J&K between 1947 and 2019, including Omar’s Abdullah family – “to be undone in two years”.
Omar replied that the Narendra Modi government had not done any developmental work at all in the two years since abrogating Article 370, despite having made promises to the contrary. At this point, he fished out a piece of paper from his pocket and started giving out facts and figures to demolish the claim that his and other governments in J&K had only caused damage in the past 70 years.
He compared J&K’s socioeconomic indicators with Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat to explain that the Himalayan region had been doing better than the states the BJP markets as models of governance and development.
Navika’s response? “I’m not the government, why should I answer you in numbers?”
Watch the full interview: