Voices Friday, June 06, 2014 - 05:30
The News Minute| May 22, 2014| 12.18 pm IST AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal was sent to two day judicial custody to the Tihar jail for failing to furnish a bail bond in a court that was hearing a defamation case filed against him by BJP leader Nitin Gadkari. Following his arrest, AAP leaders and workers protested outside Tihar jail, and were forcibly removed. ‘Street drama back’- that is how the Times of India described Tuesday’s happenings. ‘AAP circus back in town’ was the Hindustan Times’ second lead in its Delhi edition. The Indian Express confined the coverage to its Delhi city supplement and not on the edition front page. Though other newspapers and TV channels covered the event under regular headlines, the narrative was largely similar- disapproval of the AAP's tactics. Contrast this with the coverage just three years ago, when Kejriwal and his mentor Anna Hazare was the cynosure of national media’s attention. Anna arrests Govt, Govt can't stop August Kranti… this is what headlines of leading papers screamed on 17 August 2011 as a belligerent government arrested and released Anna Hazare ahead of his Lokpal fast. Things have changed dramatically in the last three years for Anna, Kejriwal and the media’s policy towards the two. Kejriwal went ahead and formed the AAP which created history of sorts by coming to power in Delhi. The coverage on AAP was a mix of awe and ridicule even till the formation of Delhi govt, when AAP was all set to form the government in Delhi, Kejriwal's feat was hailed. But things started going downhill for the AAP when it decided to pull the plug after 49 days in power. The criticism in the media increased, AAP’s call for anarchy was openly ridiculed and what ensued were bitter battles between AAP and a section of the media. Two or three incidents soured the AAP’s relations with a section of the media completely. The party’s decision to protect Somnath Bharti after the incident involving Nigerian girls, Yogendra Yadav’s comments on Khap panchayats and Kejriwal's accusations that media was taking bribes from Ambanis and Modi are a few. Kejriwal, Ashutosh and others in the AAP have addressed press meets and even taken to social media to question channels and media houses including Times Now, Zee network and India TV. This led to more negative coverage, aggressive Twitter campaigns against AAP by channels like Times Now and constant war of words. But though many in the media have a stance about AAP's tactics, they were also forced to cover the party since many of their acts and street dharnas could simply not be ignored. AAP’s loud posturing against the media was something that media houses had not encountered before. Though the AAP seems to have wanted to capitalize on the ‘paid media’ sentiment, it lost its one true campaigner in the bargain- the media itself. The AAP and media's relationship is a classic case of -Familiarity breeds contempt.

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