A massive ‘sex abuse’ case hits a general election, but primetime doesn’t see it as news

The news was all but sidelined for conversations instead on the Congress manifesto and its ‘turncoats’.

WrittenBy:Ishita Pradeep
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India’s Lok Sabha polls have been hit by horrifying allegations of sexual abuse against one of the candidates in the fray in Karnataka.

Prajwal Revanna, a Janata Dal Secular MP from Hassan and grandson of former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, is accused of sexually abusing multiple women. He allegedly shot thousands of videos of this abuse, which were circulated across Hassan district on pendrives and also widely posted on social media. 

A complaint was filed against Revanna and his father on April 28 by a woman who alleged that father and son sexually assaulted both her and her daughter. As the Karnataka government announced an investigation, Revanna fled to Frankfurt.

The JDS is part of the BJP-led NDA. The BJP leadership had allegedly been informed about the allegations back in December. Yet Revanna and his father HD Revanna were nominated as candidates from Hassan and Mandya, respectively, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi endorsing them in a rally in the state.

There’s been no word yet on the issue from Modi, the National Council for Women, or women and child development minister Smriti Irani. Last night, primetime anchors across major news channels perhaps took their cue from their leaders and had very little to say. We looked at whether some of India’s most prominent women news anchors spotlighted the issue or not on Monday night.

Rubika Liyaqat hosted two shows on News18 India on Monday night. The 5 pm show Goonj discussed the Congress manifesto and its purported resemblance to the Muslim League’s manifesto. Later that evening, she hosted Desh Nahin Jhukne Denge which was devoted to Modi’s interview with Network18.

Rubika praised the prime minister for being at the centre of the elections, and calling him “BJP ki jeet ka Brahmastra”. Tickers on her show described the interview as “Modi ka ‘extra strong interview’” and said “Jab jab bole Modi, dang reh gaye virodhi” – whenever Modi speaks, his opponents are shocked into silence). 

Notably, the Revanna issue didn’t even make it to her top 50 news stories of the day.

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The same pattern repeated across news channels.

On Aaj Tak, Chitra Tripathi dedicated her show Dangal to what the Congress manifesto says about reservation. Anjana Om Kashyap’s Halla Bol was on Congress politicians who left to join the BJP, with tickers like “Tu chal, main aaya” (You go, I’ll follow) flashing as a slideshow of various Congress ‘turncoats’ was played. 

And while Shweta Singh devoted most of DasTak to the Lok Sabha polls, she offered a two-minute report on Revanna’s “sex scandal”. She described these as “grave allegations” of sexual abuse.

Standing out from this feeble flock was, arguably, Navika Kumar.

On Times Now Navbharat, Navika’s show Sawaal Public Ka was on a fake AI video that claimed to show Home Minister Amit Shah talking about reservations. She did, however, set aside 15 minutes for Revanna on her English show The Newshour where she asked whether a “sex scandal” has dented the party’s “nari samman pitch”. She also questioned both the Congress and Karnataka state BJP over their “inaction” in the case. 

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Why hadn’t DK Shivakumar taken action earlier, Navika asked, and also questioned the Congress spokesperson on her show on whether they were “okay with such actions” from a party they had once allied with. The BJP wasn’t asked if it was “okay” with such actions from a party it is currently allied with.

Missing in action from Navika was any indication that Modi had personally campaigned for the Revannas, even saying a vote for them would be a vote for Modi. She did say the Congress was “questioning BJP’s silence”.

This is in striking contrast to the wall-to-wall coverage of the same anchors on the Sandeshkhali case. Watch here.


On April 30, Rubika did not discuss the issue, even as union Home Minister Amit Shah stated that the party will not tolerate dishonour of women. The headlines on her show also skipped any mention of Revanna. Anjana focused her debate on the suspense around Amethi and who the Congress would field from the constituency.

Meanwhile, Sudhir Chaudhary on Aaj Tak did cover the issue on his primetime show Black and White, and explained how the videos surfaced online. An outraged Sudhir explained the scale of people who were victimised – from domestic workers to policewomen. He added that the ultimate responsibility rests with the Karnataka government.

Navika on Times Now dedicated another 15 minutes to the issue, calling Revanna a ‘psycho’. She questioned why the Congress leaders who had the video didn’t release it earlier. Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, who had also discussed the issue on Monday night, spent considerable time on the Revanna case on primetime on Tuesday. He wondered why BJP women leaders have not spoken against the JDS.

Update on May 1: This report has been updated with details of primetime shows on April 30.

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