We have a media that rarely highlights what the opposition parties do, except when they do something negative. Last week, it was otherwise. There was a lot of palaver over filing nominations for the post of Congress president, which hit the box office.
So effective was the script, though the Congress leaders may not agree to call it a screenplay, that the mainstream media, which has almost cast off the Congress since 2013, was forced to highlight the issue. Since 2013, especially after 2014 when Narendra Modi took oath as the Prime Minister of India, most of the Congress leaders have been humiliated either by the anchors of mainstream media or by the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during TV debates. The situation came to such a pass that the Congress leaders had to stop taking part in those discussions..
The scene was different last week. It all began when Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s name was proposed for the post of Congress president, and he was ready to file nominations. Just as it was going to happen and the party high command was about to take a decision on Gehlot’s successor, 93 legislators loyal to him threatened to resign, because they were opposed to former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot being new leader of the Congress Legislative Party in Rajasthan. That went viral on mainstream media as well as on social media. Ergo, the Congress managed to get media headlines after 2014 when Manmohan Singh gave his farewell speech to the nation after the Congress’s humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha elections.
Nonetheless, Gehlot suddenly opted out of the contest, and party’s Rajya Sabha member from Madhya Pradesh Digvijay Singh threw his hat in the ring. As soon as the legislators loyal to him in Madhya Pradesh came to know about it, they rushed to Delhi with bouquets, thinking that he was all set to become the party president. A large number of media persons, then, began to visit his residence, and, for a while, there was no other name on TV screens than Singh’s. But he, too, withdrew from the race.
The name of the leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge’s name cropped up. The media persons rushed to the house of Kharge. A political commentator said most of the media persons perhaps did not even know his address. A battery of reporters swung into action and began to do research on Kharge. So did political analysts.
Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurating “Vande Bharat” train in Gujarat did not get as much publicity as the Congress received. Modi is known for cornering the limelight in the media. As far as getting media attention goes, Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal, too, remained behind the Congress last week.
What is more, the mainstream media had to highlight the Congress’s 3, 570-km Kanyakumari-to-Kashmir Bharat Jodo Yatra which has, so far, received a huge response from people. It has also rattled the ruling BJP that is trying to find an answer to the march. Still, there was another development. A video clip of Rahul Gandhi, who addressed a huge rally under heavy rain after walking 500 km, also stole the attention of the mainstream media. The Congress will continue to get media attention till its president is elected.