Sure, someone recited the Hanuman Chalisa, but it was relatively drama-free otherwise.
Days after two FIRs were filed against News18 India’s Aman Chopra for allegedly insulting religious beliefs, the anchor seemed to have toned it down during his debate last night.
The FIRs against Chopra were allegedly filed by the Rajasthan police in Bundi and Durgapur, after Chopra’s contentious debate on April 22 on the demolition of a temple in Rajasthan.
So, last night, he held a debate on Maharashtra’s Hanuman Chalisa row. To those well-versed in his usual tendency towards hate speech, Chopra came off as surprisingly low-key and drama-free.
To summarise the Hanuman Chalisa row: Amravati MP Navneet Rana and her husband, MLA Ravi Rana, have been arrested by the Mumbai police and charged with sedition after they said they’d recite the Hanuman Chalisa outside chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s home. The Shiv Sena had also protested outside their home after the couple said they’d conduct this recitation.
Chopra’s panelists were BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawala, Vishva Hindu Parishad spokesperson Vijay Shankar Tiwari, Congress spokesperson Atul Patil, Shiv Sena spokesperson Anand Dubey, and NCP leaders Fahmeda Hassan Khan and Mahesh Bharat Tapase.
The only melodrama that played out came, not from Chopra, but Shiv Sena’s Dubey who, to prove the Hindu-ness of his party, chanted the Hanuman Chalisa.
Otherwise, for the most part, Chopra stuck to the topic at hand. He asked Patil whether sedition charges were warranted for wanting to chant the Hanuman Chalisa. When Patil embarked on a rant and brought up the FIR against Chopra, the anchor steered him right back.
“The matter is subjudice,” he said. “I don’t want to go there..."
He also spent most of the debate breaking up potential spats between his panelists.
Finally, in the last 10 minutes of the show, Chopra asked Khan to chant the Hanuman Chalisa because...well, who can explain the workings of Chopra’s mind? Though he claimed this was on Khan’s own request. Khan deflected the request and said, “Muslims have not gone against the court. We have been living and accepting all your decisions.”
That caught Chopra’s attention and perhaps he forgot his good intentions.
“What do you mean by your decision?” he demanded.
Khan merely said, “Whatever decisions the government takes on social issues. If it has to do with Muslims, then we accept the decision the government takes.”
Chopra politely thanked her. On to Tapase, who said, on the Shiv Sena protesting outside Ranas’ home, “There could have been danger to life. Any kind of riots could have broken out.”
This did not sit well with Chopra.
“Law and order is fine but there can’t be riots due to Hanuman Chalisa,” he said. “...You say law and order could get bad. But even you won’t like it if Hanuman Chalisa causes riots...Nobody would like it.”
With that, the debate wrapped up. It remains to be seen if he'll return to his usual cocktail of misinformation and hate tomorrow. We'll keep you posted in our Bloodlust TV series, which watches out for exactly that.
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