Letter to The Hoot: What is Togadia doing on TV?

BY gupta| IN Opinion | 30/12/2002
What kicks do the broadcast journalists derive by helping men like Togadia reach out to people?



Around a week back I was watching the repeat telecast of Star News’ Newshour, attended by the DOGged Togadia, a defensive Rajya Sabha MP and a reluctant Samata Party spokesman whose name I can’t quite recall.


Somebody like Praveen Togadia who doles out threats, indulges in profanity and even sprays while talking—all of it on live television—obviously doesn’t quite make for a pretty picture for an audience to see. Then what kicks do the broadcast journalists derive by helping men like Togadia reach out to people?


The venom-breathing tongue of Togadia does have its effect on people, as substantiated by the Gujarat election results. Then why give him more opportunities to spread his venom? Why flock to press conferences to make him the man of the moment? Personally, I don’t think he has any important message to give to the public.


If at all there should be a man of the moment, it should be Narendra Modi and not Praveen Togadia. Correct me if I am wrong, but after the announcement of the election results, we have invariably seen and heard more of Togadia than Modi. Why is this when the VHP is not even the ruling party? In fact, it’s just a social organisation that happens to meddle too much in politics!


Just the other day Aajtak had Togadia online from Gujarat in which he blatantly suggested that Star News’ Rajdeep Sardesai and HindustanTimes’ Vir Sanghvi were siding with the terrorists. He did the same on the Newshour - only this time it was one-on-one, finger-pointing stuff directed at Rajdeep and "people like him". We could see Rajdeep taking interim breathers before taking Togadia head-on. He asked some niggling questions to Togadia, which the latter was more than eager to answer in a contemptuously authoritative tone. Rajdeep’s aggressive intent was probably born more out of frustration of being humiliated by Togadia on television than anything else.


Was that the real reason behind calling him on Star News, I wonder. Zee News regularly airs Togadia’s slandering comments. By the same token, it won’t be surprising to see Togadia in one of Vir Sanghvi’s talk shows soon. As far as I know broadcast journalism stresses upon the need to be presentable (read civilised) and eloquent on the screen, be it the host or the guest. That’s why you have the Arun Jaitleys and Abhishek Singhvis of political parties glibly expressing their parties’ beliefs and intent. On the other hand, how presentable is Togadia? I am sure there are other able representatives of the VHP who know how to express the same view without being lewd and vindictive on the screen.


Yes, people do have the right to know what Praveen Togadia does on a particular day, because of his increasing clout in today’s politics. But is it necessary that he himself should report it on television about what he did and what he intends to do?


 Vivek Gupta


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