Monday, July 14, 2008

Snippets/ Power & Politics, Mail Today, July 14,2008

THIS Super Six was brought to you by the Department of Land reforms”. You may not have heard it as yet on the sports channels but the day may not be far off. The recently concluded Asia Cup in Pakistan saw the advent of anew sponsor, the funds at whose disposal could make many an MNC turn green with envy. Land Reforms is astate subject and mystery surrounds the carving of anew department under the Centre’s ministry of rural reconstruction. Worse, rules and guidelines are yet to get Parliamentary sanction and no one would have known of its existence but for the scrolls that ran across the bottom of the TV set every time aball was sent across the ropes at the Asia Cup. What next? Brylcreem haired, Gillette shaven Mahi Dhoni assuring farmers “your land is safe and will not be taken by SEZ’s, MNCs. Thanks to the Department of Land Reforms”.
Now for the third round
NOW here is something that could make opponents of the Women’s Reservation Bill seethe with rage. With Parliament set for an eyeball- to- eyeball confrontation between the UPA and the informal alliance of the NDA and the Left, it’s two women who are chalking out plans and marshaling resources for two sides. Formidable as she is, UPA’s Sonia will meet amatch in Sushma Swaraj of the BJP who has unofficially been made the “chief spotter’ for the NDA. The two have met in the past. In Bellary in Karnataka Sushma put up agritty fight before going down in aLok Sabha election. And four years ago, Sushma had promised to shave her head and sit on dharna outside Parliament if the Italy- born Sonia was made the Prime Minister. The score is now one- all and Sushma is leaving nothing to chance in the impending third test. Her house in Safdarjang Lane has become the hub of NDA activity. It is here that top leaders huddle most days to chalk out strategy to woo the very people —the smaller parties and the independent MPs —that the UPA also has set its eyes on. Sonia and Sushma are tough, yet charming women and it’s apity one of them has to lose.
THERE is aSupreme Court ruling that bars ministers from using government money for self- promotion or their ministries but many have found anovel way to get around this minor problem. Ministers are now hiring ad agencies not just to buy time on satellite TV channels but even produce chat shows where they take on the role of anchors, talk about the things the ministry has done and then take questions from the audience, just as TV anchors do. Earlier, ministers appeared in similar programmes on Doodarshan, but the problem was that nobody watched the channel and the few that did never believed anything the government owned channel said. Ministers are now seeking to bridge the credibility gap by opting for private TV channels, the first to do so being the Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar who anchored ashow last week. Others are set to follow. The Doon- Sanawar- Mayo- Scindia alumni in the council of ministers are expected to opt for the English language channels, the huge contingent from Bihar will naturally go for the Hindi version while the MDMK- PMK types will take to the Tamil channels. The DMK of course has been at it for long, owning as it does more than afew Tamil channels. This in turn has spawned anew type of business enterprise. Every minister’s bhatija now wants to open aTV production house, at best or at worst, an ad agency. But that’s another story. Ididn’t see Mani’s programme but Iheard he was great. Should he be left jobless after the next elections, he should turn an anchor. Politics’ loss may well turn out to be TV journalism’s gain.

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