Subhash Chandra failed to convince Zee is not Modi's mouthpiece

By equating Muslims with Pakistan, and BJP as the only 'desh bhakt' party, his address reflected the Sangh's world view.

 |  5-minute read |   10-03-2016
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Founder and chairman of Essel Group, Dr Subhash Chandra recently tendered a clarification regarding the allegations levelled against Zee Media for airing doctored videos. Dr Chandra's over ten-minute-long monologue was introduced by his star anchor Sudhir Chaudhary who mentioned the inability of certain people to digest what he termed as Zee News' "positive" and "nationalist" coverage of news.

An impromptu act?

Chaudhary claimed that Dr Chandra was speaking at an event in Haryana when a journalist questioned him regarding the JNU controversy. Thereafter, Dr Chandra decided to straightaway head to Zee Media's studio to directly address the subject via his channel.

Also read: Why was Kanhaiya made a victim of false allegations and doctored videos?

In his brief before Chandra's address was aired, DNA presenter Chaudhary mentioned that Dr Chandra's speech wasn't written and he was speaking his heart out which effectively meant that Dr Chandra was speaking impromptu.

While the background story, which may well have spurred Dr Chandra's reaction can be true, the attempt to portray the speech as an entirely impromptu exercise certainly isn't. It cannot be so because at several crucial intervals of the speech, Dr Chandra literally changes camera angles. He goes from looking at one camera to one another, while taking a dig at secularists and praising Narendra Modi.

The changing of camera angles while delivering key arguments seems to have been done with the intention of adding intensity in the production as viewers would get bored listening to a monologue from the same camera angle.

This makes it entirely evident that Dr Chandra must have had a rough idea about what he wanted to say. He may have discussed it with his producers who would have suggested him to try speaking to different cameras from time to time to make his address appear more dramatic.

Also read: Does Indian media want to incite riots and lynchings for TRPs?

The theatrical changing of camera angles lays bare Chaudhary's claim of Dr Chandra's impromptu speech.

A BJP bhakt

Dr Chandra's address reflected his Sangh world view. He repeated the age old Hindutva argument that if someone talks about the interests of Hindus (he quickly rephrased himself and used the term Hindustani) in the country, he is labelled as communal whereas the one who opposes Hindustanis is considered secular.

Dr Chandra spoke of Zee News having broken away from such a stream of thought. Well, they certainly have programmes like "Taal Thok Ke" which perennially talk about Hindus in neighbouring countries without ever specifically discussing about the state of other minorities including Muslim minority sects in Pakistan.

Dr Chandra mentioned that BJP leaders have reason to celebrate since whenever Zee News talks about desh bhakti, the opponents of BJP think that they are talking about the saffron party.

Building on his argument, Dr Chandra stated that if the one who brings issues concerning the nation to the forefront is labelled as BJP's channel, then, it invariably means that BJP's political opponents are conceding the fact that only the saffron party is capable of getting things done in this country.

Also read: Why journalists can't stand Arnab Goswami

In order to uphold the channel's impartiality, Dr Chandra mentioned that during his 45 years of professional experience he has made more friends in the Congress and other parties as opposed to the BJP. He claimed that Congress leaders privately admitted to him that only Narendra Modi is capable of ensuring development in India by fighting poverty and hunger.

Dr Chandra added that he told the Congress leaders to say so openly but they flatly refused owing to certain political compulsions.

The first four minutes of Dr Chandra's monologue leave no reason to suspect that he is a BJP bhakt. Citing unnamed Congress leaders, he lavishes heavy praise on Narendra Modi portraying him as the only one capable of bringing change.

By making clear his position on the secular-communal divide and aligning BJP with desh bhakti through the actions of their political rivals, Dr Chandra comes across all guns blazing as an ardent BJP bhakt.

Equating Muslims and Pakistan

Since Dr Chandra seems to share the Sanghi mindset, he fell for stereotyping whereby he equated Muslims with Pakistan. Without naming Muslims, he stated that members of a particular community were abusing him and Zee Media's employees on Twitter.

Dr Chandra claimed that it wasn't right (which it certainly isn't) because he was the first person who tried to improve ties with Pakistan by airing Pakistani serials on Zindagi channel. He invoked the phrase "jode dilo ko" to lend credibility to his voice.

But what has members of a certain community got to do with Pakistani serials unless Dr Chandra believes that members of this community should be thankful to him since he brought Pakistani soap operas (Muslims rightful homeland as per the Sangh) to India despite opposition from orthodox Hindus.

Pitch for credibility

In the last bits of his speech, Dr Chandra brought to the notice of Zee Media's claimed 15 crore viewers that they have previously criticised the BJP and asked them tough questions. He mentioned that they were not scared of orthodox Hindus, Muslims and were willing to take on extremists of any ideology.

Dr Chandra ended his address by praising and congratulating Anupam Kher on his speech at a recent debate organised by a newspaper. While Kher's speech was in the news for his remark criticising the likes of Yogi Adityanath, the speech by and large was supportive of Narendra Modi and the politics of BJP. It was a tirade against all those who have pointed out how saffronisation and intolerance has been on the rise under Modi sarkar.

It was ironic yet well thought out of Dr Chandra to have concluded his speech by mentioning Kher because he needed to neutralise the warning he had extended to BJP by subtly pointing out to them that he shares Kher's views which are like music to the Sangh's ears except for the observations on two firebrand Hindutva leaders.

Writer

Saif Ahmad Khan Saif Ahmad Khan @saifakhan

The writer is pursuing MA Convergent Journalism from AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia.

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