Primetime show or media trial? News channels discuss Kejriwal’s ‘Holi with ED’, AAP ‘collapse’

A rundown of how primetime anchors jumped the gun.

WrittenBy:Nikita Singh
Pictures of Arvind Kejriwal, and anchors Arnab Goswami, Sudhir Chaudhary, and Sushant Sinha.

Aam Aadmi Party leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in the alleged liquor scam case, and the ensuing judicial procedures have taken over the news headlines. 

Kejriwal, who was served nine summons by the ED in the case, has now been accused of being its “kingpin”. The AAP chief is the party’s fourth leader to be arrested in the case, after former deputy CM Manish Sisodia, MP Sanjay Singh and Satyendar Jain. 

Following a Delhi court sending Kejriwal to six-day ED custody, he moved the Delhi High Court against his “illegal” arrest and remand. 

As media outlets offered minute-by-minute accounts of the developments in the case and the investigations and court hearings that still haven’t been completed – several primetime anchors seemed convinced of Kejriwal’s guilt.      

Four anchors in particular caught our eye. Let’s take a look.

Sudhir’s field day with jibes  

Aaj Tak’s Sudhir Chaudhary, on his show Black and White on Friday, first emphasised that there are two sides to Kejriwal’s arrest, the opposition’s stance and the ED’s allegations. A very measured take, you might think, but he then jumped the gun and all but issued an indictment on the Delhi CM. 

Chaudhary said in Hindi: “Aaj hum apke samne ek aisa vishleshan pesh karenge jiske baad pure desh ko ye spasht ho jaega ki bhrashtachaar ke khilaaf ladne ka vada karte karte, Kejriwal khud ismein kaise shaamil hogaye aur kya ye vakayi Lok tantra ki hatya hai? Kya ye iss liye ho raha hain kyunki Arvind Kejriwal ek bahot bade rashtriya neta ban gaye the?”

Loosely translated: “Today, we will present before you such an analysis after which it will become clear to the whole country that despite promising to fight against corruption, Kejriwal himself got involved in it, and is this really a murder of democracy? Is this happening because Arvind Kejriwal had become a very big national leader?”Later in the show, he would describe this as “ye mamla gambhir bhrashtachar ka hain” – a matter concerning grave corruption.

The anchor also claimed to have an “exclusive” scoop. He said that the ED had got “aise-aise saboot” – some sort of proof – from Kejriwal’s house that apparently proved that Kejriwal “spied” on ED officials. Sadly and strangely, he didn’t actually divulge details of this “proof”.

For nearly a minute, the channel played a clip of Kejriwal saying “mera jiwan desh ke liye samarpit hain” on loop.My life is dedicated to the country.” 

Soon after, Chaudhary sneered: “Aur ED kehta hain ki Kejriwal sharab ghotale ke sargana hain, kingpin hain, aur wo bilkul upar se neeche iss ghotale mein, bhrashtachar mein dubey hue hain.” (And the ED says that Kejriwal is the kingpin of the liquor scam, and is completely drenched in this scam, in corruption, from top to bottom).   

The Delhi CM had initially petitioned the Supreme Court against his arrest before his lawyers withdrew his plea, saying they would first fight his remand. Chaudhary suggested that Kejriwal and his legal team were “betaab” or desperate to go to the top court but withdrew when it was time for the hearing.

“So, Arvind Kejriwal got scared, or what happened to him?” asked Chaudhary with a smirk. He also said the Delhi High Court would not have refused to grant Kejriwal protection if they hadn’t seen any “evidence” in the ED’s “file”.

The anchor also discussed “Kejriwal’s Holi” at ED’s “new office”. He said, “Arvind Kejriwal ki jo rajnitik Holi hain. Wo iss baar yaadgar holi rahegi.” (His political Holi will be one to remember.)

Chaudhary then said if the scam was “mangadanth” or fabricated, “why are Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh still in jail? Their many bail applications have been rejected by the courts”. He said in Hindi, “Sochiye, agar Manish Sisodia aur Sanjay Singh ko adalaton se zamanat nahi mil rahi, toh kya ye mamla mangadanth hoga?” (Think, if Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh are not being granted bail by the court, so is the case really fabricated?)

The anchor then threw in statistics, ostensibly to dismiss Kejriwal and AAP’s standing as a prominent opposition party against the BJP. “Sirf teen ya chaar seeton pe hi Aam Aadmi Party BJP ko takkar dene ki bhi sthiti mein hain.” (In only 3-4 seats, AAP is in a position to even give some competition to the BJP.) 

News18 India’s BJP vs AAP

Lamba andar gaye Kejriwal (Kejriwal in jail for long)?” flashed on the screen on News18 India’s primetime show Desh Nahi Jhukne Denge on Friday.  

The thumbnail of the show’s clips on YouTube showed Kejriwal ostensibly wiping his tears, while the voiceover opened the show with “giraft mein Kejriwal, sadak par bawal (Kejriwal under arrest, chaos on road)” and “Kejriwal ka jasoosi kand (Kejriwal’s spy scandal)”.

A screengrab of a video clip of the show on YouTube.

While anchor Aman Chopra was missing (not for the first time, we might add), anchors Sabeena Tamang and Kishore Ajwani filled in for him and revisited the nine summons issued by the ED against the AAP leader. They also warned that the ED’s allegations about Kejriwal spying on ED officials could incite another case against him.      

During the show, the channel aired both the BJP and the AAP politicians’ media interactions over Kejriwal’s arrest. But for every clip of an AAP leader, there were two clips from the BJP. 

Sushant’s speculations on Kejriwal 

Like other anchors, Times Now Navbharat’s Sushant Sinha mulled on how Kejriwal would run the Delhi government from jail. He then went a step ahead, asking whether the government and party would “collapse”. 

Setting the tone of his primetime show News ki Pathshala, the livestream’s thumbnail on YouTube read “Bhayankar fanns gaye Kejriwal…Delhi mein sarkar giregi, AAP toot jaegi?” Loosely translated: “Kejriwal is caught up bad. Will the Delhi government collapse? AAP break?”     

“Big news,” said the anchor. “ED ke hi remand mein manegi Kejriwal ki holi (Kejriwal will celebrate his Holi in ED remand).” 

This is the “first sign” that the court has validated the ED’s allegations against Kejriwal, said Sinha, coming back to it again and again. “Ye pehla sanket hain ki ED ne jo apni dalilein rakhin, wo court ko theek lagein hain.” 

He added that people were saying the arrest had been made without any evidence, “par wo sthiti nahi lag rahi (but it doesn’t seem so)”. 

Sinha then came up with some permutations and combinations of Kejriwal being confronted with the other accused in the case. He said Kejriwal had “come to change the politics of the country, and in a way, he did it”. 

He said in Hindi, “Azadi se le kar aaj tak koi sitting chief minister jail nahi gaya. Lekin Kejriwal ne politics aisi badli ki wo mukhyamantri ke taur par jail jaane wale pehle CM bane. Boss ye badlav hi toh hai…Kya badlav laya politics mein! Aur kursi se chipakne ka ye chaska Kejriwal ko tab laga jab unpar ED ne gambhir aarop laga rakhein hain. Kejriwal ke khilaaf aise-aise khulaase ho rahe hain boss ki naitikta ka chunnu sa hissa bhi andar hota na, toh koi bhi aadmi istifa de deta.” 

Loosely translated: “From Independence till today, no sitting chief minister has been jailed. But Kejriwal changed politics in such a way that he became the first CM to go to jail as chief minister. Boss this is a change…What a change he has brought in politics! And he is hung on the CM chair when the ED is accusing him of serious charges. Such revelations are being made against Kejriwal that if he had even a wee bit of morality, any man would resign.” 

Perhaps Sinha is unaware of J Jayalalithaa in Tamil Nadu, but we digress.

Sinha then concluded: “Agar ED ke aropon ko sach maanein, toh sharab niti ki aad mein Kejriwal vasooli kar rahe the.” (If the ED’s allegations are to be considered as truth, in the name of liquor policy, Kejriwal was extorting money.)

Arnab brings up ghost of past  

Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami on his show The Debate seemed convinced that the Delhi CM took the “liquorgate route”. The show also featured BJP leader Smriti Irani’s press conference breaking down the liquor scam, and activist Anna Hazare’s take on Kejriwal’s arrest. “#KejriwalTaint” was the big hashtag on the screen. 

Before the cacophonous debate, Goswami emphasised that the ED had accused Kejriwal of being the kingpin, but that’s not the biggest blow – that honour went to statements by activist Anna Hazare “who brought Kejriwal into public life”. 

In an impassioned speech, Goswami referred to the 2011 anti-corruption protests. He said the man whose campaign Kejriwal joined as an “apprentice” and swore to “never ever join politics”, the same Anna Hazare had now condemned Kejriwal and “almost disowned him”. 

A YouTube clip of the show was headlined: “Why did Kejriwal take the liquorgate route?” 

The anchor said, “ In politics, in public life, moral authority is the most important of all. And today with Anna Hazare’s admonishment, Arvind Kejriwal has lost a lot of goodwill.”  

He then concluded that Kejriwal’s tag of an “anti-corruption crusader” that had “diminished over the years, is all but gone now”.

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article imageHave you seen this anchor? The search for the missing primetime discussion on electoral bonds
article imageTV Newsance 246: Electoral bonds data released, NL gets Income Tax notices, India Today conclave


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