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Congress party's month-long silence is welcome; will others follow suit?

Political parties' media ban is necessary. And it should be there for six months, not only one

Joydeep Ghosh 

ongress President Rahul Gandhi with senior party leader Sonia Gandhi and KC Venugopal at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, in New Delhi | Photo: PTI
ongress President Rahul Gandhi with senior party leader Sonia Gandhi and KC Venugopal at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, in New Delhi | Photo: PTI

The election cacophony is over. As I write this, the swearing-in ceremony of the new government is about to begin. Soon, portfolios will be announced. And the answer to – kaun banega finance minister? – will be known.

Amid this, the 134-year-old Indian National or the party seems to be in a disarray. Party President Rahul Gandhi has decided to resign from the post, and appears unwilling to change his stance despite senior party leaders’ requests. There are talks of setting up a presidium-kind of system – a committee of people functioning as the authority.

A more important decision has been taken by the party – there has been a decision to stop talking to the media for one month. It is a good decision, and for many reasons. The most important: It will give the party time to do some soul-searching. And that cannot be achieved by sitting in television studios every evening discussing some random stories, and some of them are quite so. In fact, it might be better off staying this way for several months, and only comment on important occasions like the Union Budget.

But that’s not all. It would be a good time for the entire Opposition to do the same. Why? Simply, because it makes sense. For quite some time now, we have had spokespersons yelling at each other in television studios on non-issues. They defend or offend, as the situation demands. And, let’s face it, every time an Opposition party spokesperson tries to make a point, the BJP spokesperson will have a one-line reply – “We have a majority of 300-plus seats.” Finito.

Another five years of this will be quite painful even for the viewer. The 9 pm news slot used to be news because it would analyse the most important news of the day. In the past few years, it has been reduced to mud-slinging. The break will also have a big impact on television news. Super prime-time warriors in channels will have to reimagine news. Instead of picking up inane subjects to rouse public passion (read yelling and screaming!) for TRPs, they might be forced to think of better subjects and topics that really do need to be discussed, such as the drought situation or how our education system is failing the children.

It is time for the Opposition to reinvent itself. Keeping mum for the time being is the way to go.

First Published: Thu, May 30 2019. 19:02 IST
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