Have you seen NaMo TV? Switch it on at prime time and you will get an uncut, unhindered, unadulterated exposition by the honourable Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, well, on the finances of the country. In what appears to be an interview done after office hours—in fact, it can’t be called an interview as there is no interviewer, someone has just put the camera on and asked Mr Jaitley to speak as long as he wishes to on whatever topic he chooses to—a visibly tired and gaunt Finance Minister is simply unstoppable about the economy, manufacturing, exports, GST, jobs, inflation, ease of doing business, credit policy, made in India, skill India and a myriad such topics, explaining at length about how all the numbers that should go up are going up splendidly and those which should go down are doing so even more marvelously.
This goes on for what feels like a few hours—dare there be any ad-breaks—with only jump cuts of Jaitley as he moves from one weighty issue to the next. It’s almost like one of those time lapse videos, which shows say clouds passing over a mountain peak from day to night—only here the camerperson has forgotten to fast-forward the recording, as it is usually the case.
Now, if any vote-giver to the Opposition is going to run in the opposite direction to the BJP booth after watching this, well, you wouldn’t want to belong to any club that will accept him or her as a member. But Jaitley ji is there only to whet the appetite. The real star of the evening is yet to arrive. As imaginary chants of ‘Modi…Modi’ reach a crescendo in your ears, as credits starts to roll of the previous show—actually it has only one name, the cameraman who put the thing on in Mr Jaitley’s office after everyone had left—the man of the moment finally makes his appearance. For the next hour or so you are treated to PM Modi’s acceptance speech of Seoul Peace Prize, South Korea’s highest civilian award, which he delivers in deliberate English.
In it he enumerates the greatness of India, what fantastic relations India and South Korea have had in the past (have you heard of anything other than Hyundai and K-Pop), and how bright the future is for both countries to do even more wonderful things in the future. As your chest swells with pride, and you quickly order your dinner from Kori, without much warning another speech by our redoubtable prime minster is up next, this time in Hindi with all the blast and bluster of our elections in the background, delivered a few days ago in Mangalore. Don’t go away, on the other side are (sorry, there is no other as side as it is ads-free) PM Modi’s speeches from Sambalpur, in Madha, in Bhatapara, in Thakurnagar, in Jalpaiguri, in Wardha.
How can this be called propaganda? How can this be aimed at anyone but the devotee who will still vote for Modi even if he found a Rafale parked on the PMO’s patio? How can the EC ever think that a fence-sitter would watch NaMo TV and keel over to the right side when all he is suffering from is Brussels Condition, a cousin of Stockholm Syndrome, whereby the person indulges in sado-masochist activities and slowly starts loving it.
Don’t ban NaMo TV. Freedom of expression must be allowed, in all its limitless forms, to make a thriving democracy.