Scoops & Stings galore as Polls near
Updated: Apr 6, 2019
With EC announcing poll dates on 10 March, Republic TV has been airing ‘inside scoops’ or ‘sting operations’ almost every day. On March 12, the first such scoop — ‘After his son Sujay joins BJP, Congress’ Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil may resign as leader of opposition in Maharashtra’, and an inside scoop — ‘Big tussle within Congress over Rahul Gandhi’s Masood Azhar ‘Ji’ comment, top leaders bemoan always being in ‘damage control mode’.
From thereon, pre-election scoops have been aired like ‘Lalu Prasad Yadav threatens Congress of a ‘friendly fight’ after a tug of war situation emerges between Bihar opposition ahead of seat-sharing announcement’ on March 13, ‘Miffed with Priyanka Gandhi’s meeting with Bhim Army Chief, Mayawati tells Akhilesh Yadav to contest from RaGa’s constituency Amethi’ on March 14, ‘PM Modi to begin massive rally drive, minimum 3 per state ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls’ on March 15, and ‘AAP makes one last push to woo Congress, proposes new seat sharing formula with Sharad Pawar as mediator’ on March 19. A sting operation ‘#MPsOnSale’ aired (March 19) by Republic TV ‘exposed’ 3 sitting MPs from BJP, Congress and regional party RSLP for alleged cash dealings before the polls.
The IMPECT Study (#WeAreWatchingYou) shows that all the scoops including a sting operation undertaken within these 10 days by Republic TV showed the Opposition in poor light while boosting the ruling party. Though the sting operation also exposed an MP from ruling BJP, the wording and framing stressed the two opposition MPs more, with the Congress MP’s leaked audio “DeMo had a huge impact, hit our cash flow” and the RSLP MP’s leaked audio “Send cash through Hundi” repeatedly flashed on screen — thereby painting demonetization as a heroic task undertaken by Narendra Modi and asserting his government’s ‘zero tolerance to corruption’.